Finding Your Wings

Gratitude List:
1. Feeling my wings
2. Grades are ready to submit for Quarter 1. How have we gotten here already?
3. Breath. It’s always there when I need it, and more effective than sugar or coffee for a quick lift.
4. Keeping the resolve
5. The tunnel to Faerie up in the orchard, between the pear and cherry trees.

May we walk in Beauty! Breathe.


Sit in a quiet place, calm and undisturbed. Shift yourself into place. Let your upper body fidget a bit.  Shrug and stretch, stretch your spine upwards, making little breathing spaces between all the bone. Sigh. Yawn. Sigh audibly. Settle your bones, making sure your ribcage is straight, your shoulders are restful, your hips are aligned.

Now begin to notice your breath as it enters and leaves the space of your body. Notice where your body rests on the chair, the floor, the earth. As you hold your awareness on your points of contact with earth, begin to draw the breath into your whole body. Breathe not only into your lungs, but into your stomach.

Feel the breath enliven your ribs and your gut. Breathe into the muscles and bones of your arms. Draw it down over your shoulders, swirling down your arms and down to your fingertips. As you breathe out, feel the breath flow out the tips of your fingers.

Draw breath down your spine. Let it flow out the base of your spine. Breathe it into your thighs and down your legs. Wiggle your toes and ankles as the breath fills your feet and trickles out the soles of your feet into the earth.

Breathe. And breathe. And breathe

Now shuffle your upper body once again, like a bird re-adjusting its feathers, and find your way to stillness, letting the breath continue to circulate through you.

Bring your attention to your back. Sit up a little straighter and pull your shoulders back. Can you sense your shoulder blades back there? These are your wingbuds. Breathe into them and out through them. Shift your shoulders as you need to, to maintain your awareness of them.

Feel or imagine them beginning to itch, to swell, to pulse with life. Feel the moment when a small, folded pair of wings bursts through the surface, like the tiny curl of a plant breaking through soil, or a small bird breaking out of an egg. As they grow larger with each breath, notice their color, their texture. Don’t rush to unfold them. Let them develop. Feel them in the space behind you. Roll your shoulders forward. Shrug. Give them space.

Then, when you are ready, on a breath, lift them upward and out. Feel their strength. Feel the way they lift you. Practice opening them and folding them. Notice how they become invisible when you fold them up, how you will be able to go about your normal life with your wings folded against your shoulders and back, and only those who Know will know.

Now when you need them, to give you strength, to help you move from one stuck place to a new open field—when you need to escape—when you need to see something from a distance, to change your perspective—now they will be there for you. All you have to do is to breathe into them, hear them rustle in the space behind you, stretch, and open.

Empathy and Resolve

Gratitude List:
1. The way that rages and shocks and personal affronts can burn up and burn out, leaving crystal clear resolve–and a little bit of empathy–in their wake.
2. Watching my children become ever more themselves.
3. Sunrise: Magenta and indigo clouds, and a tiny peep of aquamarine sky.
4. Beauty all around.
5. Resolve.

May we walk in Empathy.

The Single Word in the Silence

Here’s something that happened in the Writers’ Retreat yesterday. Mostly unpolished, it might end up being only the final stanza:

If you take a vow of revenge, revenge will find you,
for vengeance works by exponential law,
building upon itself inexorably
until you no longer understand
the meanings of the words
balance, justice, restoration.

If you take a vow of poverty,
you may receive a mirror of what you offer
and what appears to be a meager bowl
and a wretched hovel will hold beauty
beyond the richest treasure
within your gilded spirit.

If you take a vow of silence,
you will find the words in every cloud and star.
For silence works by laws of paradox.
The bell chimes clearest in the quiet
and the space of no-words offers space
for the single word―
the sound borne on each passing breeze
too gently to hear when the heart speak in sermons
but always at hand when the soul settles inward―
Beloved.


Gratitude List:
1. The strong message, repeated by wise people two days in a row: Take care of yourself.  I’m listening.
2. Painting (I’ve been telling myself that I have been granted an Artist’s Residency for the next month. It’s the Goldfinch Farm Artist’s Residency, and I have granted the prestigious honor to myownself. The requirement is to make ten paintings between now and the beginning of school.)
3. Shifting the daily practice.
4. Resolve
5. Another strong message, two days in a row, by the same wise people: Prayer/Magic/Energy is also part of saving the world. The story of the Tibetan monks is that when they pick up the hoe for garden work or the knife for cutting vegetables for soup, they do it with the prayer that this act will be part of what brings all Beings awake, what makes all suffering to cease.

Namaste!


“We become neighbours when we are willing to cross the road for one another. There is so much separation and segregation: between black people and white people, between gay people and straight people, between young people and old people, between sick people and healthy people, between prisoners and free people, between Jews and Gentiles, Muslims and Christians, Protestants and Catholics, Greek Catholics and Latin Catholics.

 

“There is a lot of road crossing to do. We are all very busy in our own circles. We have our own people to go to and our own affairs to take care of. But if we could cross the street once in a while and pay attention to what is happening on the other side, we might become neighbors.”
—Henri Nouwen
***
“Do anything, but let it produce joy.” ―Walt Whitman
***
“Stories make us more alive, more human, more courageous, more loving.” ―Madeleine L’Engle
***
“I believe that if I can sit out there long enough those crows, the trees and the wind can teach me something about how to be a better human being. I don’t call that romanticism, I call that Indigenous Realism.” ―Dr. Daniel Wildcat
***
“The most valuable possession you can own is an open heart. The most powerful weapon you can be is an instrument of peace.” ―Carlos Santana
***
“Take for joy from the palms of my hands
fragments of honey and sunlight,
as the bees of Persephone commanded us.”
―Osip Mandelstam
***
“All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveler is unaware.”
―Martin Buber, “The Legend of the Baal-Shem”
***
“It’s no wonder we don’t defend the land where we live. We don’t live here. We live in television programs and movies and books and with celebrities and in heaven and by rules and laws and abstractions created by people far away and we live anywhere and everywhere except in our particular bodies on this particular land at this particular moment in these particular circumstances.” ―Derrick Jensen

The Face in the Shadows

 
Someone appears to be watching in the tree shadows.

Gratitude List:
1. Rain. Oh yes, the rain. The scent of it. The coolness in the air. The way you can feel the plants sighing with relief.
2. Yesterday, in one visual moment: A crow in a dead tree, and a monarch flitting by, blue sky behind.
3. Chicory. Have I mentioned the chicory? A blue that heals.
4. Writing Day. Today I took John Terlazzo’s Flame in the Hand Writer’s Retreat. What an utter joy. My spirit is quieter. My resolve is firmer. I feel anchored. Chanting, meditating, listening, writing.
5. Looking through old college yearbooks with college friends. Oh my.

Holyholyholyhallelujah.


“There is so much in eternity that is trying to reach us, if only we can suspend our wranglings long enough to be touched.” —Toko-pa Turner
***
“I am part of the sun as my eye is part of me. That I am part of the earth my feet know perfectly, and my blood is part of the sea.” —D. H. Lawrence
***
“Water, the Hub of Life. Water is its mater and matrix, mother and medium. Water is the most extraordinary substance! Practically all its properties are anomalous, which enabled life to use it as building material for its machinery. Life is water dancing to the tune of solids.”
—Albert Szent-Gyorgyi (1893 – 1986) Hungarian-American physiologist; Nobel laureate
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“There is really no such thing as the ‘voiceless.’ There are only the deliberately silenced, or the preferably unheard.” —Arundhati Roy
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“God is only ever where we stand with our neighbor in trouble and against injustice.” —Naomi Wolf
***
“Follow the waters,
lean in with the trees,
breathe the cool morning air,
walk through the swirling mists.”
—Beth Weaver-Kreider

Dragons and Fish


I found this in my little zen garden in the classroom today. I love to watch what happens within its boundaries throughout the day. Some students have to work it every day, ordering it to their perfect idea of what it should look like. Others seem to have a need to make it messy, to jumble the stones, or bury them, spilling the sand over the edges. This used to bother me, until I realized that the need to disorder is also a type of ordering, a shifting of energies, and a necessary one in a day which is regimented by 45-minute blocks, and assignments that must be done, and attention that must be paid. Disordering the zen garden is its own way of taking control. I still can’t quite reconcile myself to the seeming-wanton spilling of sand over the edges, and the ones who scrape the rake harshly against the bottom of the tray. Still, even those who do that have their purposes, and I am committed to be an observer at this point, and not a director of the zen garden.  Lately, they have taken to leaving messages. I am partial to “Dragons and fish.”

The strange dreams continue. Last night there was a lion in my tent. I tried growling at it to scare it away. It just became more aggressive. Fortunately, Jon was there to wake me up. Only half an hour later, I had the chance to return the favor and wake him up from a fearful dream, too.

My next dream was less intense, but equally appalling–lost at sea in a little island archipelago. One of our party found a little boat and rowed off to see if he could find a mainland somewhere. When he came back, I paddled off in the opposite direction and found Finland–there was a sign right on the beach: FINLAND. So I knew we were saved.

Gratitude List:
1. Snow Day coming up
2. The boys might be fighting more these days, but at least they’re talking about it, trying to figure out what sets them off, so maybe there’s some learning taking place.
3. How ideas birth ideas
4. Resolve, determination, grit
5. Someone to wake me from the nightmares

May we walk in Beauty!

Threads of a Poem

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Spider is writing her poems along the field
from sedge to bramble to foxtail
in silver shining threads and dew.

Gratitude List:
1. Several new babies safely in the world now.  Blessings on the new people and their parents.
2. Dawn chorus.  I may need to change up my routine and do my writing in the evenings so I can sit out on the porch and listen to the morning’s symphony.
3. Harriet Tubman will be on the $20 bill.  It’s a symbol, and it’s only money, but it’s a nod to her role in our history.  The people we set up as our heroes shape who we become as a nation.  This is a small step, but it has the potential to show us a better side of who we can be.
4. Resolve.  Determination. Will.  I don’t know about you, but it seems as though I have energy cycles–sometimes I can only focus on getting done the things I need to get done at the moment, whether it’s a lot or a little.  There are times, however, when it seems as though the winds push through an extra measure of resolve, and the energy for moving forward is more constant.
5. How spring always has a new thing.  The crocus and the earliest spring flowers are faded, but a few daffodils remain.  Ms. Freiberg’s yellow tulips are still shining in the morning dew, and the my guarddogwood trees are daring each other to be the first to burst into bloom.  (Now, if only oriole would come and whistle for me.)

May we walk in Beauty!

Prayerful

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I do not know what this is–one of the boys took it with a special filter–but I like how it draws me in and centers me.

Yesterday morning as I was doing some last-minute puttering at my desk, a group of students tapped on my door.  “We’re doing a prayer walk,” they told me.  “Can we come in and pray for you?”

So much of my focus when I am at school is on how I can care for and meet the needs of these young people that it threw me for a momentary loop to be on the receiving end.  I didn’t quite know how to be.  It was lovely and powerful and extremely meaningful, here at the stressful end of a semester–with the anxiety and excitement of the semester that is approaching–to simply stand there and receive the gift and the grace of their prayers, like feathers, like stones, like a bowl that held me throughout the whole day and which will carry me into the newness of the coming weeks.

It strikes me that in these days when there are such sharp distinctions being made between religions and denominations and spiritual perspectives, that one thing we can do is to offer each other our prayer.  Or energy.  Or meditation.  Or goodwill.  Whatever we call it.  That reaching out toward each other in spirit, casting the web, carrying and holding each other.

Gratitude List:
1. Spending the morning drawing with my kiddos.
2. Mist in the hollow.
3. Warm coffee on a chilly morning.
4. How resolve settles into the spine.
5. Prayer.

May we walk in Beauty!