Good Work

White Friends, this is difficult and constant work that we’re doing, that we must do, and continue to do. How can we really know how deeply we’ve been indoctrinated into this culture of white supremacy until we know it? And then know it more deeply? And then again. It’s not like a Bandaid that you rip off, and deal with the sting, and then everything’s fine. It’s layer after layer after layer.

And yes, it’s exhausting. And yes, it’s painful. But we have to do this work. Now. And always. It’s exhausting and painful for BIPOC folks to have to deal with microaggressions and explicit racism and systemic racism and inadvertent racism every day. We have to do this work. And keep doing it.

There is so much to learn on the way: new ways to articulate powerful ideas, new ways of exploring our own difficult feelings, new ways to see people and the world, new ways to experience the history of all of us, new ways to become more fully human.

I don’t quote many Bible verses here, but there’s one that fits pretty perfectly in this rhetorical moment. It’s in Romans 12: “Do not be conformed to the patterns of this world. Instead, be transformed by the continual renewing of your mind, that you may discern the will of the Holy One: what is the good and acceptable and perfect.” The patterns of white supremacy in this (US) part of the world are institutionalized and powerful. It’s going to take some intentional and constant work to break and transform those patterns.

If you hear a new thing that challenges and unsettles you–about white supremacy, or privilege or fragility, or about taking a new look at US history and ideals–I urge and challenge you (me, us) to not begin in defensiveness and argument, but to simply sit quietly a moment, and ask yourself (myself, ourselves) how it applies, how the integrating of this idea might be transformational and renewing. And then begin to rip off that bandaid.

There are doorways all around us, leading us to places where we can be more fully human and humane, and right now there are constant opportunities to see them, to walk through them, to learn and to grow. Let’s join the Good Work, beginning with ourselves.


Gratitude List:
1. So many good and challenging things to learn.
2. Watching a thunderstorm from the shelter of the pavilion by the River.
3. Good exercise. Moving my body. Healthy, limber, and strong: That’s my mantra for the summer. (It includes a lot of aches and pains on the way, but they’re the good ones.)
4. Toads. They’re such wise and ancient folk.
5. Finishing projects

May we do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly in Beauty!


“You are a pure Soul in darkened soil.” —Rumi


“Although the world is full of suffering, it is full also of the overcoming of it.” ―Helen Keller


“What we need is here.” —Wendell Berry


“Million-to-one chances…crop up nine times out of ten.” ―Terry Pratchett, Equal Rites


“Know that joy is rarer, more difficult, and more beautiful than sadness. Once you make this all-important discovery, you must embrace joy as a moral obligation.” —André Gide


“Take chances, make mistakes, get messy!” —Ms. Frizzle


“We stand guard over works of art, but species representing the work of aeons are stolen from under our noses.” —Aldo Leopold


“It is well known that a vital ingredient of success is not knowing that what you’re attempting can’t be done. A person ignorant of the possibility of failure can be a half-brick in the path of the bicycle of history.” ―Terry Pratchett, Equal Rites


“Hilta laughed like someone who had thought hard about Life and had seen the joke.” ―Terry Pratchett, Equal Rites

Last Day of School

A peony with her attendant priestess.

Gratitude List:
1. Last Day of School, and I think I am going to get everything done on time. Saturday is graduation, so I will get to see and say goodbye to so many students I love, so that’s some closure, even if this online business feels like leaving an open wound. (Hmmm. That seems to decrease the import of the gratitude, doesn’t it? It’s just that the yuckiness of ending this way is the reality I cannot escape, so I am grateful for an alternative method of closure that’s more real while still being safe.)
2. The smells! Yesterday I was walking and suddenly I was hit by a wall of scent. I know that they’re terrible for the trees, but one of the climbing multiflora roses whacked me in the nose with its scent as I passed. So beautiful. And then when I got home, I spent some time communing with the opening peonies. Their scent reminds me of the grandmothers.
3. The Faerie Grove. That little grove of trees down by Skunk Hollow Lane where the wild rose is exploding into bloom is where I have seen the cedar waxwings twice. At the base of the trees is the rooty log of another tree that fell years ago, with plenty of nooks and crannies for a hundred apartments for small living things. I often see goldfinches congregating there. And the vultures tend to kettle over that field.
4. Rain. It feels just right to have rain on the last day of school. Change, movement, shift.
5. The coming days are full. There’s so much writing to do, knitting and bookmaking, reading (so MUCH to read!), house projects, walking, hanging out with Jon and the kids.

May we walk in Beauty!


Words for Today:
(and Maya Angelou reaches through the veils of time to hold us in the way that only she could)


“When fascism comes to America it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross.” —Sinclair Lewis


“I would rather have questions that can’t be answered than answers that can’t be questioned.” —attr. to Richard Feynman


”The most remarkable feature of this historical moment on Earth is not that we are on the way to destroying the world—we’ve actually been on the way for quite a while. It is that we are beginning to wake up, as from a millennia-long sleep, to a whole new relationship to our world, to ourselves and each other.” —Joanna Macy


“I’ve learned that no matter what happens, or how bad it seems today, life does go on, and it will be better tomorrow. I’ve learned that you can tell a lot about a person by the way he/she handles these three things: a rainy day, lost luggage, and tangled Christmas tree lights. I’ve learned that regardless of your relationship with your parents, you’ll miss them when they’re gone from your life. I’ve learned that making a “living” is not the same thing as making a “life.” I’ve learned that life sometimes gives you a second chance. I’ve learned that you shouldn’t go through life with a catcher’s mitt on both hands; you need to be able to throw something back. I’ve learned that whenever I decide something with an open heart, I usually make the right decision. I’ve learned that even when I have pains, I don’t have to be one. I’ve learned that every day you should reach out and touch someone. People love a warm hug, or just a friendly pat on the back. I’ve learned that I still have a lot to learn. I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
―Maya Angelou


“Live in the sunshine, swim in the sea, drink the wild air.” —Ralph Waldo Emerson

Beltane Eve

I know all about rainy days and Mondays, and a long string of wet grey weather can make me sad, too. Still, a crisp and breezy drizzly morning feels to me like adventure, like sea change, like a new thing blowing in. Something in me starts to wake up on days like this.

And this is Beltane Eve, the halfway point between Spring Equinox and Summer Solstice. The Wheel turns. We might be living in a radically different world than we expected a year ago. But the Earth spins on. Here in the northern hemisphere, days lengthen, and despite the chilling breezes, the warm times are coming. The skies may be grey, but they’re clearer of pollutants than they’ve been for years. The waters are running clearer, too. Do the buds and blossoms of spring seem more vigorous, more filled with life force? Are the greens greener?

Beltane is about abandoning yourself to the experience of the life force that is burgeoning around you, being willing to risk losing yourself in the wild. And maybe finding yourself, too. Even if your existence is tied, these days, to a house, how can you celebrate yourself today (and this week and this season) as a being who belongs to the wild, who feels the life force within yourself as surely as the tree outside your window is feeling the sap rising from root to branch?


Gratitude List:
1. Wildness
2. Green
3. Wind
4. Energy
5. You

May we walk in Beauty! (Such, such Beauty!)


“Things aren’t so tangible and sayable as people would have us believe; most experiences are unsayable, they happen in a space that no word has ever entered, and more unsayable than all other things are world of art, those mysterious existences, whose life endures beside our own small, transitory life.” —Rainer Maria Rilke


“We don’t think ourselves into a new way of living. We live ourselves into t anew way of thinking.” —Richard Rohr


“To create one’s world in any of the arts takes courage.” —Georgia O’Keeffe


“Hope is not a lottery ticket you can sit on the sofa and clutch, feeling lucky. It is an axe you break down doors with in an emergency. Hope should shove you out the door, because it will take everything you have to steer the future away from endless war, from the annihilation of the earth’s treasures and the grinding down of the poor and marginal… To hope is to give yourself to the future – and that commitment to the future is what makes the present inhabitable.” ―Rebecca Solnit


“The child’s hand
Folding these wings
Wins no wars and ends them all. “
―Thomas Merton

Unmixed Attention

Gratitude List:
1. Crisp morning
2. Looking forward to family Zoom today
3. Ten deep breaths of outside air enliven me
4. Greeting the Beings of this place grounds me
5. Rain brings more greens

May we walk in Beauty!


“Sell your cleverness and buy bewilderment.” —Rumi


“Absolutely unmixed attention is prayer.” —Simone Weil


“You can never leave footprints that last if you are always walking on tiptoe.” —Leymah Gbowee


“God speaks to each of us as [she] makes us, then walks with us silently out of the night. These are the words we dimly hear: You, sent out beyond your recall, go to the limits of your longing. Embody me.” —Rainer Maria Rilke


“I do not see a delegation of the four-footed.
I see no seat for the eagles.” —Chief Oren Lyons, Onondaga


“Be soft. Do not let the world make you hard. Do not let pain make you hate. Do not let the bitterness steal your sweetness. Take pride that even though the rest of the world may disagree, you still believe it to be a beautiful place.” —Kurt Vonnegut


“I told them we’re tired of the culture wars, tired of Christianity getting entangled with party politics and power. Millennials want to be known by what we’re for, I said, not just what we’re against. We don’t want to choose between science and religion or between our intellectual integrity and our faith. Instead, we long for our churches to be safe places to doubt, to ask questions, and to tell the truth, even when it’s uncomfortable. We want to talk about the tough stuff—biblical interpretation, religious pluralism, sexuality, racial reconciliation, and social justice—but without predetermined conclusions or simplistic answers. We want to bring our whole selves through the church doors, without leaving our hearts and minds behind, without wearing a mask.” ―Rachel Held Evans


Go deeper.
Past thoughts into silence.
Past silence into stillness.
Past stillness into the heart.
Let love consume all that is left of you.
—Kabir

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

Rain and Reflection

Welcome, rain. Welcome, dawn on this chilly morning. Welcome, work of the day, of the weekend. Welcome, time yet to come when the work is done. Welcome, clean new pages to write my next chapter.


Gratitude List:
1. Yesterday’s dawn. It began as we pulled out of the driveway, with pink streaks on the horizon over Spicher’s field. On the way to pick up our car pool, we passed the small paddock where two mountainously fluffy sheep graze, and the sky was beginning to glow gently magenta against the woolly clouds, the grass a green almost glowing. The River, as we crossed, flowed pink beneath the old bridge to the south, and the lamps were still twinkling along its span. By the time we reached school, the sky colors had shifted out of indigos and violets and pinks, to tangerine, and rays of coming sun shot upward through the low-flung clouds.
2. Rain and reflections on a Saturday morning
3. People who stand up for peace
4. People who stand up to bullying behavior
5. Poetry

May we walk in Beauty!

No Chair for Despair

Digital Variation on a drawing of a bird figurine from Marija Gimbutas’ Language of the Goddess

“Perhaps all the dragons in our lives are princesses who are only waiting to see us act, just once, with beauty and courage. Perhaps everything that frightens us is, in its deepest essence, something helpless that wants our love.” —Rainer Maria Rilke


Modern psychology has a word that is probably used more than any other word. It is the word “maladjusted”. Now we all should seek to live a well-adjusted life in order to avoid neurotic and schizophrenic personalities. But there are some things within our social order to which I am proud to be maladjusted and to which I call upon you to be maladjusted. I never intend to adjust myself to segregation and discrimination. I never intend to adjust myself to mob rule. I never intend to adjust myself to the tragic effects of the methods of physical violence and to tragic militarism. I call upon you to be maladjusted to such things.” —Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.


“.. One of the most calming and powerful actions you can do to intervene in a stormy world is to stand up and show your soul. Soul on deck shines like gold in dark times. The light of the soul throws sparks, can send up flares, builds signal fires, causes proper matters to catch fire. To display the lantern of soul in shadowy times like these – to be fierce and to show mercy toward others; both are acts of immense bravery and greatest necessity.

Struggling souls catch light from other souls who are fully lit and willing to show it. If you would help to calm the tumult, this is one of the strongest things you can do.

There will always be times when you feel discouraged. I too have felt despair many times in my life, but I do not keep a chair for it. I will not entertain it. It is not allowed to eat from my plate. ..” —Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes


“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” ―Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.


“The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any.” ―Alice Walker


“We were together. I forget the rest.” ―Walt Whitman


“Three things in human life are important: the first is to be kind; the second is to be kind; and the third is to be kind.” ―Henry James


“My continuing mantra: be gentle, be gentle, be gentle. Stand your ground, know your truth, but be kind.” ―Terri Windling (from her Myth & Moor blog)


“Reconciliation is like dressing a sore: You can’t bandage a sore without first cleaning it.” ―Leymah Gbowee


Gratitude List:
1. The eagle who flew above us as we were driving the bridge home across the Susquehanna last night.
2. My Speech class. In the past, I’ve struggled to set up safe classroom communities in Speech without it devolving into just play and goofiness. This class is so diverse in so many ways—seriousness and silliness, many nationalities, introverts and extraverts—and I was really worried. Yesterday in class, as they were doing simple introductory speeches, they started calling out, “You got this!” and “We’re with you!” as students walked up to give speeches. And it wasn’t snarky or patronizing, just supportive and sweet.
3. The light is returning. Every morning is a little brighter a little earlier. Every afternoon, the sun stays later.
4. Crows everywhere.
5. Rain in Australia.

May we walk in Beauty!

Wind and Windows

Gratitude List:
1. The satisfying pinkish shine of a well-scrubbed copper-bottomed pot.
2. The clucks and buzzes and twitterings of the people in the bushes on the late migration south.
3. Rain and wind. I love storminess. I remember when Miss Gehman showed us the Olivier version of King Lear in high school Shakespeare class–It was the storm that sold me, the King and his Fool out in the storm.
4. There really are windows everywhere. You just need to know how to look. Sometimes when life is intense, it’s just hard to see them.
5. The urgency of Greta Thunberg and Autumn Peltier and their cohort.

May we walk in Beauty!

Mist, Moon, Mist

Poem from a year or so ago:
Prayers and Rage
by Beth Weaver-Kreider

What can we give besides our prayers and rage?
And what will that avail?
Send out the story on October winds.
Fling it high, where crows are flying.
Send the message echoing into earth
with every pounding step you take.

Listen.
Let the shells of your ears gather the story.
Reel in the gossamer strands of the tale
and weave them into the veil you wear.
Listen for the stories of those who weep,
those who rage, those who only speak
with the shrug of a shoulder,
with a sigh, with a shudder.

Listen, too, to those who walk right in,
who step into your circle without invitation.
Listen to the voices that are hard to hear.
Offer only the bread that is yours to give.
Be like the old gods, with the raven Wisdom
on one shoulder and Memory on the other,
and Reason perched upon your hat.

Offer what is yours:
your rage,
your prayer,
your watchful quiet heart.


And another, more thematically whimsical:
Duck, duck, goose.
Goose, goose, wren.
Mist, moon, mist.
October.


Gratitude List:
1. Finding my way again to deep breath.
2. Chilly autumn rain. Yes, really. The melancholy of a rainy fall day can be satisfying even for sanguine personalities.
3. While I have never been a big fan of the cold season, I love wearing layers and leggings, and that season has returned, and so I feel much more comfortable in clothing.
4. This full-spectrum lamp that Jon bought to help boost us through the coming winter. Light-bathing.
5. The distinctly autumn sounds of the calls of geese and jays and crows. I feel my animal self more distinctly in these days, pulling between the longing to migrate and the longing to hunker down and burrow in.

Much love. Blessings on your Day!

Welcome, Spring!

We are two days in to the season of Awakening, of Hatching, of Breaking Open. Two days in, through wind and sunshowers, through gusting rain and rushing cloud. Last year, on the second day of spring, a foot of snow fell in the hollow. This year, a seemingly endless drench of rain.

In the season of Brigid, back in February, we felt the Earth stirring, noticed the sap rising, watched pull toward birth and sprouting. Now we feel the promise, watch the winter aconite drop seeds for next years golden cups, and Persephone’s footprints–all shades of crocus–springing up across the lawns, uncontainable by flower beds.

What, in you, is hatching now? What thing, which has lain long and silently within you like a seed in the darkness, now seeks the sun and breezes? Hold that thing within you, like a seed. See the rough, hard casing which has protected it in its dreamstate. Breathe in the sun of spring, the chill air biting as it enters, and feel your lungs, your belly, your capacity, expand. Watch the casing of your dreamseed break open, and feel the roots push downward within you. Feel the sprout nosing upwards to the light and warmth of spring. What is being born within you? What new capacity? What new heartspace? What plan and purpose? Blessed be your seeds. Crack open. Seek the sun. Feel the rains of spring caress your growing roots.

Gratitude List:
1. The groundhog who is nosing around on the hillside behind the house
2. A day off, to ponder and paint, and catch up on the work
3. The fog of winter is lifting
4. Watching the children grow and become so gallantly themselves
5. The seeds which are sprouting

May we walk in Beauty!