Hello, Toadflax!

The other night when I was desperately trying to take a photo of the rainbow that would come even close to portraying the bright colors, I went through every funky filter on my phone.  This one came out really odd, but I like the psychedelic feel of it.  It’s kind of like a poem–it might not capture the physical reality of the moment, but the strangeness of the impression actually creates more the magical mood of the moment than the blander regular photos.

I have begun walking in the mornings.  I almost hesitate to say it, because it’s only been three days, hardly long enough to call it a habit.

Gratitude List:
1. Birdsong.  Swallows chittering.  Crow barking out directions. Sweet chirrup of goldfinch. A flock of swallows circled above the soybean field up near Mt. Pisgah Road, and one in particular sang a cheep-cheep, cheep-cheep, cheep-cheep.  Then it would swoop low, look me in the face, and say CHEEP-cheep right by my ear.  I find it amazing that something so tiny would take on a creature so much larger than itself.
2. Sun on flower faces.  There’s a yellow snapdragony-looking beauty that I have been calling butter-and-eggs.  Apparently that is actually one of its common names.  I must have pulled it out of deep memory.  Its Latin name is linaria vulgaris, and it is also known as Common Toadflax.  I love that so much, that we have a local plant called Toadflax.  Pleased to meet you, new friend.  Also, Queen Anne’s Lace veils the road edges, and the blue eye of chicory is everywhere.  Little patches of St. John’s Wort peek out from the poison oak.  The yellow bladders of jewelweed flowers are beginning to appear.
3. Cool breezes on the skin at the beginning of another hot day.  Warm sun on my face.
4. The scent of milkweed.  Milkweed a-buzz with pollinators, sending its aroma down the little breezes into the hollow.
5. Cold water infused with lemon, mint and basil.

May we walk in Beauty!


May You Have Rainbows


It was one of the brightest rainbows I think I have ever seen, but a cell phone photo just can’t do it justice.  There was a second rainbow in the space of this photo, and the deeper band of gray between them.

Gratitude List:
1. Yesterday’s shining double rainbow
2. The way mist gathers in the pockets of trees in the hillsides
3. St. John’s Wort.  I found some wild patches of it along my street, and on this morning’s walk, I dug some up to bring home for my garden.
4. Lemon, Mint, and Basil infused water
5. The Weaving that we all are doing, not always aware as we place our threads how we are intertwining our stories and prayers together.

May we walk in Beauty!  Much love.  And rainbows.

Gratitudes, Musings

Rain and River

Today was bookended by two powerful stories about language, how it differentiates, how it connects.  This morning in chapel a colleague of mine spoke thoughtfully and reflectively about her own life story, about the Tower of Babel–how we build complicated structures of our lives, placing our hopes and expectations into them, and how we can be blindsided when they crumble.  Her stories were affirming of those who struggle, acknowledging the struggle, and offering the hope of transformation, not only of the pain, but of inner prejudices and stereotypes.

On the other end of the day, in Faculty Meeting, was a presentation on resilience, particularly for women (and others) who have been marginalized and excluded from leadership roles in the church and its institutions.  The framing story was Pentecost, another tale of people of many languages trying to communicate.

Language helps us to classify and analyze and differentiate.  It’s an intellectual tool.  It also helps us to connect and weave together and integrate.  It’s a psychological/heart tool.

Gratitude List:
1. The scent of the honey locust tree blossoms wafting through the window just as I am falling asleep.  Blessings on the bees.
2. Yesterday, Jon spotted a box turtle on the driveway, wandering off into the yard.  I was sort of afraid that thee’d become too rare to spot anymore, but there is at least one living on Goldfinch Farm.
3. Rain, rain, rain.  Slow and deliberate and steady.  Free of high wind and hail and flooding.
4. Chasing rainbows.  After supper we drove down to the Rt. 30 bridge to see the new girders that were just put in place last night above the highway by Wrightsville.  We have some engineers in the family who just couldn’t wait to see them.  As we reached the crest of the hill, we saw the rainbow, looking like one foot was in the hollow and another was at Sam Lewis Park, but the nearer foot kept shifting as we neared the park.
5. We parked by the River at the John Wright restaurant boat launch, and Ellis and I walked down to the water, standing between the two bridges in the rain.  I found a shining 2015 penny there on the threshold between the land and the water.
6. Language, the gossamer thread of words that we send between us like trees, our conversation the webs cast by a spider.

May we walk in Beauty!

Gratitudes, Poems

So Much We Do not See

There is so much we do not see.
We walk through a maze of rocks on a beach
and think that all the world is washed in beige,
when before us lie the myriad possibilities
of the rainbow, if we would only turn our gazes
to the shine, the light that splinters
into beauty on every surface.


Gratitude List:
1.  The great horned owls are calling this morning.  I have heard three distinct voices, I think.  Their call, here in the hollow, is the same rhythm as I have heard it elsewhere, but there’s something different, like a regional accent, an extra light bounce between the early notes.
2.  From my end, chapel seemed to go well yesterday.  They seemed attentive to what I was saying.  I talked about the Open Bowl of the Heart: the practice I do, when I get to feeling hopeless and despairing about what is wrong in the world, of visualizing that my heart can hold it all, the stories of horror right alongside the stories of unexpected kindness and the beauty around me.
3.  Elderberries!  Thanks to my wonderful friend Tabea, I now have two large bags of berries in the freezer, enough to make quite a bit of syrup to keep my family healthy in the coming winter, I hope.
4.  Unexpected kindnesses.  A student I have never met walked into my classroom and deposited on my desk a picture that he had drawn for me, a beautiful pencil rendering of a movie heroine.  Apparently he used to draw pictures for my predecessor, and he decided to keep up the tradition.  Lucky me!
5.  This gray moth that is fluttering about in front of the computer has a little flash of rosy sheen when its wings catch the light just so, and when it slows down enough for me to see.  It’s sort of like the magic of moonstone or labradorite, appearing dull and grayish on the surface, but filled with faerie twinkles when it is turned to the light just so.  Maybe people are like that, too, the ones who seem to be going about the day in a gray pallor, not drawing particular attention to themselves suddenly shine forth a color you can’t even name, it comes on you so whimsically.

May we walk in Beauty!


Rainbow Dragon

Gratitude List:
1.  Powerful Community Rituals.
2.  Collaborative art (the piece below is one Ellis and I started several weeks ago and finished coloring today)
3.  Breathing in and out
4.  Courageous Discussion
5.  The way scent is connected to memory.

May we walk in beauty.

2013 March 168


The Truth about the Tree Poem

Poem-A-Day Day 24 Prompt:  The title begins, “The Truth About ______”

When I said that I was transformed into a tree
perhaps it would have been more accurate
to say that I became a raven
my roots curling into claws
my branches melting into blackness
the rush of the dawn wind in my ears.

Did I say “roots” again?  Pardon me.
My feet are roots, of course, when I am a tree,
but also when I am a rainbow.
Did you know?  A rainbow has roots too
great arcing roots that mirror and reflect
their sky-form.  The earth spectrum of the underworld.
When I am a rainbow, I am a perfect circle
holding the world in my colors.

It may be closer to the truth were I to say
that one fateful day I became a stone
and sank deeply into a stillness so profound
I could not hear even my jeweled heart
burning with the brilliant fire of the Earth.
I cannot recall what happened to my night-black wings
on the day I turned into a stone.

You may think it is not possible, not true,
that right now I am actually hearing you say, “But
a person does not simply turn into a tree
or a stone, into a rainbow or a bird.”
Now, see, I have told you your own thoughts
and you can feel free to be amazed.

But how can I not hear you
when you have become
the gentlest of breezes
and whispered your protest
with a smile
into my ear?