When We All Go Marching In

Room 206 before I took down the things from the walls and bulletin board.

This week I have been the worship leader for my church’s Sunday service, my first time to prepare the videos to open the service, to pray, to bless us at the end, and to ask others to do children’s time and scripture. It felt daunting, and it highlighted how much I miss being part of that weekly gathering. And so last night’s dream:

In the dream, I am planning worship, asking people to make videos for the Sunday morning service. The pastor suggests that we really need a saxophone solo, so I go searching for people I know who could record a saxophone solo, but suddenly it’s no longer quarantine, and we’re holding church in a parking lot in a city (on folding chairs) and it’s about to begin and I have not yet found someone to do the saxophone solo when an old friend comes walking by and I ask him, and he starts to play “Oh When the Saints Go Marching In” and everyone gets up and follows him in a dancing march around and around the parking lot, and everyone is laughing and dancing and celebrating, and no one is afraid to bump into anyone else or to touch.

And now I am crying.

The other day, Jon and I were talking about what it will mean when parts of Pennsylvania go from red to yellow, and I realized that for me, it won’t necessarily be any different. Really, in life Before, I mostly went to four places: church, school, and to visit our parents. When we go to yellow, we still won’t go to church, we definitely won’t go to school, and I don’t think we’ll be able to visit retirement communities yet. It feels pretty bleak.

I wrote that thing the other day about the After, how the time when this is over won’t be a “getting back to normal.” I like that awareness that people are putting into the world–this is a time for change and transformation, to envision what the new way will be when we are again out in the world. Still, for me, I long to get back to a normal where we can brush past each other in public, link arms, hug, dance, celebrate together without fear, when we can go marching in, joyfully, to the public places we share together.


Gratitude List:
1. Sometimes something that appears and creates stress is also really exciting. I have a week to get my whole classroom cleared (that means my thousand and one books packed, too) because it looks like construction on our air conditioning will begin in June!
2. Anticipating Oriole
3. Quiet mornings with my boy before anyone else is up
4. Good stretching
5. Dreaming well

May we walk in Beauty!


“An artist’s duty, as far as I’m concerned, is to reflect the times. I think that is true of painters, sculptors, poets, musicians. As far as I’m concerned, it’s their choice, but I CHOOSE to reflect the times and situations in which I find myself. That, to me, is my duty. And at this crucial time in our lives, when everything is so desperate, when every day is a matter of survival, I don’t think you can help but be involved. Young people, black and white, know this. That’s why they’re so involved in politics. We will shape and mold this country or it will not be molded and shaped at all anymore. So I don’t think you have a choice. How can you be an artist and NOT reflect the times? That to me is the definition of an artist.” —Nina Simone


“A loving silence often has far more power
to heal and to connect than the
most well-intentioned words.” —Rachel Naomi Remen


“The secret to waking up is unscrambling the word earth.” —anonymous


“I have come to regard with some suspicion those who claim that the Bible never troubles them. I can only assume this means they haven’t actually read it.” ―Rachel Held Evans


“What a comfort to know that God is a poet.” ―Rachel Held Evans


“Geometry is the archetype of the beauty of the world.” —Johannes Kepler


“We don’t read and write poetry because it’s cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion. And medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for.” —John Keating (Robin Williams in Dead Poet Society)


“You are the Ground of all being
the Well-Spring of time
Womb of the earth
the Seed-Force of stars.
And so at the opening of this day
we wait
not for blessings from afar
but for You
the very Soil of our soul
the early Freshness of morning
the first Breath of day.”
—John Philip Newell


“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” ―J.K. Rowling

Draining

Grief-work is draining.

You think you’ve got your hand on the valve, naming the emotions as they come, sorting and categorizing them, giving them their due. And then something comes along and stops up the pipe, impedes the flow, and all those wild emotions start to splutter and spray all over the place. Your carefully controlled flow becomes a torrent.

And then the pipes are cleared out, the weeping and raging is done for a time, and you’re. . .drained.

I had been holding it all so tearlessly, tending my emotional valves, calling it anxiety and simple sadness. And then the governor announced we wouldn’t be going back to school this year, and I was blindsided by the grief. When I started to let myself cry, I couldn’t stop crying, couldn’t stop pouring it out, couldn’t stop it gushing forth. I knew I had been experiencing sadness, but I had no idea how it would drown me when I started to give it voice. By day’s end, I felt like I’d experienced a death.

And that brings on the guilt. This is not a death. My losses are small. But this grief is not mine alone, and much of what I hold is grief for all the losses my students are experiencing, for those (mine and others all around the world) who will fall through the cracks, who will have to call on every ounce of their resilience to make it through, those who will be marked by this in lasting and terrible ways.

Were I not me, I would tell me that it’s okay to let yourself feel, to experience the emotions that come, to give voice, to weep, to rage, to break down. I would tell me not to be embarrassed or ashamed for the gushing of words and of pain. I would tell me that it’s necessary to open the valves so they don’t really explode. So I will call yesterday a necessary day, gather myself, tend to the work I left undone in the fog of grieving, mend and build and cleanse.

Today is for tending and mending, for quiet feeling.


Gratitude List:
1. These humming people. Jon goes about his work at home, humming and singing. Ellis scats along with the music in his headphones. Josiah bounces into a room humming (his two favorites seem to be the guitar riffs from “Seven Nation Army” and “Burn This Whole House Down”).
2. All the goldfinches! Fluttering through the milder winds of yesterday’s scouring, there must have been ten or twelve at the feeder at once, and so many bright ones!
3. I love the way the purple is wearing out of my hair–it’s fading to blue-grey on the ends where I’m greyest. Right now, I could mail order ALL the colors and experiment. It’s not like I’m going out in public any time soon.
4. This Ethiopian coffee a dear young person brought back from her trip home last Christmas. I have been allowed to go back to the classroom to get essential items that I had left behind, and last time I was there, I put this coffee in my box. It’s a connection to that part of my life, and it has a hint of cardamom which gives it mystery, and it tastes soooo delicious.
5. A four-day weekend. I didn’t get much of anything yesterday in the fog of sadness. Now I have catch-up time, and a chance to begin reconfiguring my long-term plans.

Walk in Beauty!


“Stay close to anything that makes you glad you are alive.” —Hafiz
*****
“The problem is that you think you are separate from others.” —Richard Rohr
*****
“You have to want a thing enough to reach out for it.” —Lailah Gifty Akita
*****
“To wait within the moment for the coming dawn,
To breathe the single breath of all that lives,
To walk the web on which we all belong,
To face the newborn day with love instead of fear.
To listen for the whisper of the Spirit’s wind,
To feel Creator’s heartbeat in the world around,
To hear the grace of the Beloved in my neighbor’s voice,
To embrace the sacred space between the past and change.”
—Beth Weaver-Kreider
*****
“Hope is a dimension of the soul. . .an orientation of the spirit, an orientation of the heart. It transcends the world that is immediately experienced and is anchored somewhere beyond its horizons. . . .It is not the conviction that something will turn out well, but the certainty that something makes sense regardless of how it turns out.” —Vaclav Havel
*****
“When time comes for us to again rejoin the infinite stream of water flowing to and from the great timeless ocean, our little droplet of soulful water will once again flow with the endless stream.” —William E. Marks
*****
“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

Careful about the Spells

“Like water, be gentle and strong. Be gentle enough to follow the natural paths of the earth and strong enough to rise up and reshape the world.” ―Brenda Peterson


“Tyrants fear the poet.” —Amanda Gorman, U.S. Youth Poet Laureate


In the very end, civilizations perish because they listen to their politicians and not to their poets.” —Jonas Mekas


“Are you enhancing your power to discern the difference between rash risks motivated by fear and smart gambles driven by authentic intuition?” —Rob Brezsny


“I think hard times are coming, when we will be wanting the voices of writers who can see alternatives to how we live now, and can see through our fear-stricken society and its obsessive technologies, to other ways of being. And even imagine some real grounds for hope. We will need writers who can remember freedom: poets, visionaries—the realists of a larger reality. Right now, I think we need writers who know the difference between production of a market commodity and the practice of an art. The profit motive is often in conflict with the aims of art. We live in capitalism. Its power seems inescapable; so did the divine right of kings. . . . Power can be resisted and changed by human beings; resistance and change often begin in art, and very often in our art—the art of words. I’ve had a long career and a good one, in good company, and here, at the end of it, I really don’t want to watch American literature get sold down the river. . . . The name of our beautiful reward is not profit. Its name is freedom.” ―Ursula Le Guin


“I wonder how the world would be different if we grew down?” —Someone in my House, a few years ago


Gratitude List:
4. Planning and processing
3. The shades of gold, saffron, yellow, ochre
2. Grilled cheese and sauerkraut sandwiches with all the condiments
1. The way the eyes make sense of what they see. The way the create meaning: Tree branches that curve into the shape of a fish. Clouds that are dragons. A rough patch in the ceiling that is an old woman smiling.
5. Light at the end of the tunnel. I tend to visualize the light at the end of the tunnel as a gleam at the end of a long straight railroad tunnel. Sometimes it turns out that you’ve got lots of rock and debris to move from the pathway, or that it’s just a little opening, and you’ve got to dig yourself out. No matter what shape the tunnel is in, the light is there to inspire and guide.

May we walk in Beauty!

Wherever You Stand

Gratitude List:
1. Anticipating a family day
2. Safety
3. Creative outlets
4. Pumpkins (Yes, even the spices that do with them–feel free to judge me.)
5. The ones who fight for justice

May we walk in Beauty!
*****

Wherever You Stand
by Beth Weaver-Kreider

“Wherever you stand, be the soul of that place.” –Rumi

Be the spark, the knowingness,
the mother of the moment,
be the dream, the home, and the hope.
Wherever you stand, be the stone
and the wind. Yes, be the wind
in the trees of the soul of a place.
Wherever you stand, be a memory,
a hope of the future remembering
how
once
we all lived together in peace.
*****

“A quiet secluded life in the country, with the possibility of being useful to people to whom it is easy to do good, and who are not accustomed to have it done to them; then work which one hopes may be of some use; then rest, nature, books, music, love for one’s neighbor—such is my idea of happiness.” —Leo Tolstoy


“I don’t have to chase extraordinary moments to find happiness. It’s right in front of me, if I’m paying attention and practicing gratitude.” —Brené Brown


“You pray for the hungry. Then you feed them.
That is how prayer works.” —Pope Francis


“Allow dark times to season you.” —Hafiz


“Oh, to love what is lovely, and will not last!” —Mary Oliver


“I don’t have to figure it all out. I don’t have to be perfect for every moment. I just need to be Present. I just need to show up.” —Beth Weaver-Kreider (My past self is preaching to my present self.)


“The ego forgets that it’s supposed to be the little traveler with its bindle bag over its shoulder, following behind [not ahead] the radiant Soul who walks as more wise, more tender, more loving, more peaceful trailblazer throughout our lives.

Ego aspires sometimes to wear the garments of the Soul, which are way too big, making the ego trip over the miles of radiant robes it tries to wrap itself in, instead of following the light those robes give off. And tending to the Soul’s needs, the Soul’s directions.

Yet with Soul in the lead, and ego following the lead of the Soul, then we can fulfill the vision of the Holy People…” —Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes


“Driven by the forces of love, the fragments of the world are seeking one another.” —Teilhard de Chardin

Keep Pushing


Not intending to be maudlin here. I don’t know quite why the carvings of skull wings on 17th century gravestones is so fascinating to me.

Gratitude List:
1. Doing things. Channeling the unsettledness into working for change. Keep up the writing and calling, folks. Keep your Senators’ and Representatives’ feet to the fire. Demand that they be fully informed of the truth of what is happening. Send them the images and the videos and the news reports. Require them to respond.
2. Hours of professional development this afternoon with a colleague who just retired, and in passing on two challenging but fun classes to me.
3. Listening to a Terry Pratchett novel. I love reading the Tiffany Aching books, but to really get the accents right, you can’t beat an audiobook. I’m listening to Hatful of Sky. Really disappointed I couldn’t find Wee Free Men.
4. Butterflies
5. Colorful stones. I am oiling the collection of stones I found on Race Point Beach. It’s taking a while because I am soaking them for hours in the oil before polishing them. They come out with slightly matte colors compared to the brilliance of being in water, but the colors are definitely brighter than the dry ones.

May we walk in Beauty!


Quotes for the Day:
“I do not understand the mystery of grace — only that it meets us where we are and does not leave us where it found us.” ―Anne Lamott
***
“[E]ducation is not just about utilizing a particular curriculum, or ensuring that critical reflection in a community follows a particular formula. It is full of intangible and random events. It is not just taught in the classroom, but lived in the midst of the community in ways that are not even fully quantifiable.” ―M.S. Bickford on the educational theories of John Westerhoff
***
“The trouble with trouble is, it starts out as fun.” ―Anonymous
***
“One of the few things I know about writing is this: spend it all, shoot it, play it, lose it, all, right away, every time. . .give it, give it all, give it now.”
—Annie Dillard
***
“You can tell people of the need to struggle, but when the powerless start to see that they really can make a difference, nothing can quench the fire.”
—Leymah Gbowee
***
“There are opportunities even in the most difficult moments.” —Wangari Maathai
***
“Throughout my life, I have never stopped to strategize about my next steps. I often just keep walking along, through whichever door opens. I have been on a journey and this journey has never stopped. When the journey is acknowledged and sustained by those I work with, they are a source of inspiration, energy and encouragement. They are the reasons I kept walking, and will keep walking, as long as my knees hold out.”
—Wangari Maathai
***
“If you do follow your bliss you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while, waiting for you, and the life that you ought to be living is the one you are living. Follow your bliss and don’t be afraid, and doors will open where you didn’t know they were going to be.”
—Joseph Campbell
***
“I’m a Zen Buddhist if I would describe myself. I don’t think about what I do. I do it. That’s Buddhism. I jump off the cliff and build my wings on the way down.”
—Ray Bradbury

Some Day. . .

    

     

Gratitude List:
1. The interesting visitors continue: On the way to school the other day, I saw a groundhog that had climbed into a pair of bent-over saplings. It was contentedly chewing on the leaves of one, about three feet above the ground.
2. Re-reading my January journals about my vulture dreams gives new depth for contemplating healing, transformation, and grounding.
3. Tomorrow is the last of the school commitments–then finish grading and sail into summer.
4. Senior dedication and Commencement ceremonies were beautiful and tender and inspiring. Now they fly on their own. This was a sweet class. Solid. Steady. Earnest.
5. Companionship. Hospitality. Warmth.

May we walk in Beauty!


Sunday’s Notes and Quotes:
“I feel like I’m binge-watching the fall of the Roman Empire set to the music of Benny Hill.” —Bill Maher
***
“We will not know our own injustice if we cannot imagine justice. We will not be free if we do not imagine freedom. We cannot demand that anyone try to attain justice and freedom who has not had a chance to imagine them as attainable.”
―Ursula K. LeGuin
***
“Each of us has lived through some devastation, some loneliness, some weather superstorm or spiritual superstorm. When we look at each other we must say, I understand. I understand how you feel because I have been there myself. We must support each other because each of us is more alike than we are unalike.” ―Maya Angelou
***
“Isn’t it nice to think that tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it yet?” ―L.M. Montgomery
***
“I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library.” ―Jorge Luis Borges
***
TS Eliot:
“We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.”
***
Resignation
by Nikki Giovanni

I love you
because the Earth turns round the sun
because the North wind blows North
Sometimes
because the Pope is Catholic
and most Rabbis Jewish
because winters flow into springs
and the air clears after a storm
because only my love for you
despite the charms of gravity
keeps me from falling off the Earth
into another dimension
I love you
because it is the natural order of things.
***
“The third near enemy of compassion is idiot compassion. This is when we avoid conflict and protect our good image by being kind when we should definitely say ‘no.’

“Compassion doesn’t only imply trying to be good. When we find ourselves in an aggressive relationship, we need to set clear boundaries. The kindest thing we can do for everyone concerned is to know when to say ‘enough.’ Many people use Buddhist ideals to justify self-debasement. In the name of not shutting our heart we let people walk all over us.

“It is said that in order not to break our vow of compassion we have to learn when to stop aggression and draw the line. There are times when the only way to bring down barriers is to set boundaries.” —Pema Chodron

Tender Threads

Today’s Prompt is to write a ________ Thread poem

Tender Threads

Threads of story, threads of dream,
webs stretch across vast distances,
holding the space between your story and mine,
between this heartbeat, and that one.

Silver cords of energy stitch our hearts
into a single cloth that spreads
outward, a cloth of all the threads
that we have been, from the birth
of the first grandmother
to the newest person on the planet,
one tapestry, one weaving.


Gratitude List:
1. We had a girls’ choir from a school in South Africa sing in our chapel today. It was a sublime experience.
2. A student told me that I looked like a Persian princess today. I felt exotic instead of frumpy.
3. One of my students has been going through a rough patch, and it’s been apparent in her world-weary eyes. Today she came to talk to me, and her eyes were clear and sparkly again. My own heart lifted. May she find her way into the sunshine, and home to herself.
4. Spring morning birdsong
5. The tender hearts of my Beloveds.

May we walk in Beauty!


Quotes and Notes for the Day

Thursday’s Thoughts:
People Like Us
by Robert Bly

There are more like us. All over the world
There are confused people, who can’t remember
The name of their dog when they wake up, and people
Who love God but can’t remember where
He was when they went to sleep. It’s
All right. The world cleanses itself this way.
A wrong number occurs to you in the middle
Of the night, you dial it, it rings just in time
To save the house. And the second-story man
Gets the wrong address, where the insomniac lives,
And he’s lonely, and they talk, and the thief
Goes back to college. Even in graduate school,
You can wander into the wrong classroom,
And hear great poems lovingly spoken
By the wrong professor. And you find your soul,
And greatness has a defender, and even in death you’re safe.
***
I will hold your heart
as I hold all the stories
which you’ve let slip through
the filters of your fingers.
How they are caught in my web!
—Beth Weaver-Kreider
***
“Here is the world. Beautiful and terrible things will happen. Don’t be afraid.” ―Frederick Buechner
***
“The words you speak become the house you live in.” ―Hafiz
***
“Humans are the most intellectually advanced animal on the planet and yet, we are destroying our only home. The window of time is very small, but I refuse to believe that we cannot solve this problem.” ―Dr. Jane Goodall
***
“Memory makes the now fully inhabitable.” ―David Whyte
***
“Things which have once been in contact with each other continue to act on each other at a distance even after the physical contact has been severed.” ―James Frazer
***
“Which world are we trying to sustain: a resource to fulfill our desires of material prosperity, or an Earth of wonder, beauty, and sacred meaning?” — Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee
***
“And now that you don’t have to be perfect, you can be good.” —John Steinbeck
***
“Crystals are living beings at the beginning of creation. All things have a frequency and a vibration.” —Nikola Tesla

Trying to Be Found


Here are three tiny poems from my Creative Writing journal. (I usually wrote along with the students on the writing prompts).

Each day
a new story
of finding my way.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Once there was a little girl
who was trying to be found.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Bluebird on a wire
muttering a gentle question.
No one answers but the hawk.


“I like sitting at the piano. I like the idea that there are things coming in through the window and through you and then down to the piano and out the window on the other side. If you want to catch songs you gotta start thinking like one, and making yourself an interesting place for them to land like birds or insects. Once you get two or three tunes together, wherever three or more are gathered, then others come.” -Tom Waits
*
“The poem, I’ve always felt, is an opportunity for me to create an integrated whole from so many broken shards.” –Rafael Campo
*
“Which came first, the fear or the gun? The broken heart or the bleeding one? The impulse toward death or the desperate reach for love?” –Mark Morford
*
“A journey can become a sacred thing:
Make sure, before you go,
To take the time
To bless your going forth,
To free your heart of ballast
So that the compass of your soul
Might direct you toward
The territories of spirit
Where you will discover
More of your hidden life,
And the urgencies
That deserve to claim you.”
–John O’Donohue


Gratitude List:
1. I think I am homing in on the nest of Our Lady of the Flowers. I sat on the porch for a while last evening and watched. She seems to return to the same general area of the tree. It’s located at a less convenient spot for gazing this year, hidden higher up and further from the house.
2. Weaving stories together. Listening to people tell their stories and talk about who they want to be in the world.
3. How a good stretch that wakes up the spine wakes up the body
4. The people who do good. I get so tied up in knots about the stupid, greedy, and cruel things that the powerful people are doing. It really helps to balance my heart to keep remembering all the good and wise and compassionate things that you and the others are doing. Thank you.
5. Pesto

May we walk in Beauty!

Believing in Magic

This one is from a few years ago. We haven’t had a flowering of this particular beauty for a couple years. Last time they came up, Josiah set out a village of tiny houses and gnomefolk around them. I thought that would certainly draw them back again. This is one good reason not to mow too often.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m going through the poems and fragments I wrote with my Creative Writing classes this year. Here’s one that caught my attention:

3-21-17
My rage has tried to build
a concrete wall around
the quiet borders of my heart

and yet

I wander toward truth
skipping from spring into winter
and in my heart, a violin
like an orange bird
plays songs of peace.


“Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.” ~Roald Dahl
*
History, despite its wrenching pain,
Cannot be unlived, but if faced
With courage, need not be lived again.
—Maya Angelou
*
“Doors closing, doors opening. Doors closing, doors I’m opening. I am safe. It’s only change. I am safe. It’s only change.” —chant (I don’t know the author)
*
Vine and branch we’re connected in this world
of sound and echo, figure and shadow, the leaves
contingent, roots pushing against earth. An apple
belongs to itself, to stem and tree, to air
that claims it, then ground. Connections
balance, each motion changes another. Precarious,
hanging together, we don’t know what our lives
support, and we touch in the least shift of breathing.
Each holy thing is borrowed. Everything depends.

—Jeanne Lohmann, ‘Shaking the Tree’
*
Parker Palmer: “The only way to become whole is to put our arms lovingly around everything we’ve shown ourselves to be: self-serving and generous, spiteful and compassionate, cowardly and courageous, treacherous and trustworthy. We must be able to say to ourselves and to the world at large, “I am all of the above.” If we can’t embrace the whole of who we are — embrace it with transformative love — we’ll imprison the creative energies hidden in our own shadows and flee from the world’s complex mix of shadow and light.”
*
“It’s your place in the world; it’s your life. Go on and do all you can with it, and make it the life you want to live.” —Mae Jemison


Gratitude Lists:
1. Organizing and sorting
2. Oh, the rains!
3. Cooking. Sometimes I really love cooking. Last night, we each ate an entire stuffed zucchini for supper, even the kids. They would have eaten more!
4. Anticipating a day doing things I love to do.
5. All the shades of green out there. We’ve really settled in to the heart of midsummer.

May we walk in Beauty!

Facing the Shameshadow

  

      

   

      

I am home again, after four days of silence at the Jesuit Center at Wernersville. I feel refreshed, reprogrammed, reset, re-energized, rejuvenated, renovated. I needed this one more than I realized. I wasn’t admitting to myself quite the extent of the bubble I had placed between me and the world. When you live with your heart on your sleeve, it can begin to feel like you’re immune to the numbing effects of addictions and sadnesses and avoidance of the inward pathways. I think I knew that I had been veering off, not walking deeply to center, not really wanting to see myself.

It’s a long and messy story, full of my own self-absorbed wanderings. It’s about the sudden weight gain, about Facebook as pacifier, about the news cycle. It’s name is Shame. I hate it when I have to go back and work through something I have already been through, but there it is. It took me two days of walking and making art and standing in doorways to finally step through and look that Shadowself in the face and name it: Shame. I have been living by shame, and refusing to call it by its name.

The Shameshadow had been lurking at my heels, a menacing old dog. I called it Anxiety. I called it Exhaustion. I called it by the name of our new president. But when I turned and called it by its true name–Shame–it bounded up to me and began to teach me. Those other names were simply things it fed on and symptoms. It was one of those Illuminating Moments, an Epiphany. I am under no illusions. I am sure it will probably begin to lurk and growl again someday, but then I must remember that it will have more to teach me.

I don’t like that that my Shadowself so often goes by the name of Shame. I want to exorcise it once and for all, not live with it crowding my heels. But this seems to be the way of it. It returns again and again to teach me. I am grateful for the messages.

After my moment of Epiphany, I walked out to the labyrinth. At every turning, I dropped a shamebundle. You don’t want to know these, do you? It’s things like the constantly messy/dirty house, sudden weight gain, use of FB to numb anxiety, not paying enough attention to the boys, being too hard on the boys, not being the perfect teacher, not getting my grading done in a timely fashion–that gives you the picture. Some of them, I picked up again on the way out of the labyrinth, not as shame, but as ideas for satisfying my heart.

And yes, I have spoken to the Shameshadow time and again in my life. It can feel like I’ve slid back down the longest slide in the game of Chutes and Ladders, but I find the spiral a much more helpful metaphor. I have been here before, on a previous cycle, but I am spiraling onward. I am not  where I once was, just at a further loop on the spiral.

May we all find the courage to turn and call our Shadowdogs by name, and wait quietly to learn what they have to teach us.


One more thing about the monastery. My friend Ruth Ann and I decided to take our silent retreat at the same time this year. We spoke together about our intentions and hopes before we sank into silence, and then we surfaced into a quiet reflective conversation at the end. In between, we left books in the hallway outside each other’s doors. Having a silent witness and being a silent witness was a powerful experience. It was a deep and powerful level of Companionship that mirrored and enhanced the work with the inner Companionself.


Jan Richardson:
did you not know
what the Holy One
can do with dust?
*
“I have woven a parachute out of everything broken.” —William Stafford
*
“There are years that ask the question and years that answer.” —Zora Neale Hurston
*
“Fear is the cheapest room in the house. I would like to see you living in better conditions.” —Hafiz
*
Sign on a stone at the monastery: “I am now.”
*
“One puts down the first line. . .in trust that life and language are abundant enough to complete it.” —Wendell Berry
*
“Speak to the earth, and it shall teach thee.” —Job 12:8
*
“Sometimes the truth depends on a walk around the lake.” —Wallace Stevens
*
“Tell all the truth, but tell it slant.” —Emily Dickinson
*
“The contemplative stance is the third way. We stand in the middle, neither taking the world on from another power position nor denying it for fear of the pain it will bring. We hold the dark side of reality and the pain of the world until it transforms us, knowing that we are both complicit in the evil and can participate in wholeness and holiness.” —Richard Rohr
*
“Always we begin again.” —St. Benedict
*
Thomas Merton: “There are only three stages to this work: to be a beginner, to be more of a beginner, and to be only a beginner.”
*
“If the Angel deigns to come it will be because you have convinced her, not by tears, but by your humble resolve to be always beginning; to be a beginner.” —Rainer Maria Rilke
*
“When you have stood at the edge of the pool
and concentrated your will upon it,
a moment will arrive to ask you the question,
“What do you see?” and you will not know
whether you are gazing at the surface
or into the depths, or into the very woods itself.
All will be one, and it will be into your own soul
that you are gazing.” —Beth Weaver-Kreider
*
“You are not a drop in the ocean. You are the entire ocean in a drop.” Rumi
*
“Ask much,” the voice suggested, and I startled.
Feeling my body like the trembling body of a horse
tied to its tree while the strange noise
passes over its ears.
I who in extremity had always wanted less,
even of eating, of sleeping.
Agile, the voice did not speak again, but waited.
“Want more” –
a cure for longing I had not thought of.
But that is how it is with wells.
Whatever is taken refills to the steady level.
The voice agreed, though softly, to quiet the feet of the horse:
“A cup taken out, a cup reappears; a bucketful taken, a bucket.”
Jane Hirshfield


Gratitude List:
1. What the Shameshadow will teach me if I will listen
2. Clearing
3. Doorways
4. Beech Cathedral and Labyrinth
5. The Art Room at the Jesuit Center
6. Cloister walks–there is something deeply TRUE about archways. Something in my spirit recognizes the deep significance of archways, even if I cannot find the words to explain.
7. Being home again. Establishing the summer rhythms.

May we walk in Beauty! With sunshine sparkling all around.