God is Your Lover

A previous year’s patty pan harvest.

“God is your Lover, not your jailer” —Hazrat Inayat Khan
“What is good for the world will be good for us. That requires that we make the effort to know the world and to learn what is good for it. We must learn to cooperate in its processes, and to yield to its limits. But even more important, we must learn to acknowledge that the creation is full of mystery; we will never entirely understand it. We must abandon arrogance and stand in awe. We must recover the sense of the majesty of creation, and the ability to be worshipful in its presence. For I do not doubt that it is only on the condition of humility and reverence before the world that our species will be able to remain in it.”
—Wendell Berry
“We must not allow the clock and the calendar to blind us to the fact that each moment of life is a miracle and mystery.” —H. G. Wells
“Stand firm against injustice even if it be against yourself.”
—The Quran
“It is out of the dailiness of life that one is driven into the deepest recesses of the self.” —Stanley Kunitz
“Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts. There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature—the assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after winter.” —Rachel Carson

Gratitude List:
1. Swallows on a wire
2. The butterflies that dance in the garden my Beloved has planted for Beauty
3. Reunion: The next generation seems to like each other, too
4. Pesto
5. Africa House: It’s one of the places that our group has met most often in recent years, and by now it has begun to feel like the home of us

May we walk in Beauty!

Livin’ in an Amish Paradise

Spending the weekend with college friends at the Amish Paradise Vacation Home in Leacock, PA.  I feel like a tourist in my own territory.  It’s like we’re all one family gathered at Grandma’s house for the weekend, only there’s no common Grandma.

Gratitude List:
1. (What do you hear?) A rooster singing morning matins. Chickadee.  Cars out on 30.  Whoosh of an early morning biker.
2. (What is satisfying?) Sitting around the dining room table like we used to do, how the conversation just gets going, the serious ideas, the laughter, the kids.
3. (What do you see?) Coppery leaves of maple, shining green eyes of my early morning companion.
4. (Where does hope reside?) In re-framing the conversations.  In holding willfully and fiercely to hopes and ideals and dreams of what-may-be.
5. (What are the words for the day?) Memory, laughter, love, children, conversation, listening, friendship, family.

May we walk in Beauty!

Re-Gathered Community

“I hope you will go out and let stories, that is life, happen to you, and that you will work with these stories . . . water them with your blood and tears and your laughter till they bloom, till you yourself burst into bloom.” –Clarissa Pinkola Estés

Last night, I went to my thirtieth high school reunion.  I think there were about 23 or 24 of us classmates there, along with many spouses.

We talk about the beauty of youth, and I know the fact of that because I spend my days with teenagers.  I heard somewhere once that someone had somewhat scientifically determined that we reach the pinnacle of our physical beauty around age 30, and I can understand that, too.  But for well-polished and gracefully-tempered beauty, sit in a room of people just about to enter their second half-century.  I am trying to define the essence of it this morning: there’s grace in the faces, self-acceptance, a movement beyond the scrabbling and striving of earlier years.  The intervening years since we graduated have brought terrible pain to some of us, great joys, power and powerlessness, anxiety and fulfillment, and the stories and conversation last night were carried on a stream of grace that echoed in people’s voices and showed in their eyes.  People seemed to have moved into themselves.  They are beautiful in ways that make our high school selves look raw and unpolished, our young adult selves look over-polished and grasping.  These people were shining and grace-filled, and in a way that admitted of the harsh realities that we have experienced on our way here.

Gathered in that room, I know, were people of all political stripes.  Many of us sit firmly on one side or the other in the debates that are threatening to shatter our church.  But last night, we were one thing, one group, together sharing our stories.  Some stories got deeper, but many of us told the basic details.  Still, the regular tales of children and grandchildren born and growing up, of jobs and farms and hobbies–all took on deep significance.  There was an acceptance and a sense of belonging in that room, where many of us have become near-strangers over the past 30 years.

A moment of laughter appeared in the room.  Giggles and chuckles.  Then, as understanding dawned, a second wave, and a third.  And the laughter itself became a conversation.  Meaning was there, and levels and layers of meaning that went beyond the initial words that sparked the laughter.  Something holy happened in the laughter.  Did it last for five minutes or for twenty?

I feel shy and awkward with small-talk conversations with people I don’t know well.  Often I can push my way through and into small chat, but I never quite know how to navigate a room.  How long do we talk?  What about the awkward pauses?  Is it my turn to start the next piece of conversation?  It’s always easier for me when the conversation gets going on its own track, and I lose awareness of the way into the conversation, when mutual curiosity draws us together and lends energy to the forward movement of our talking.  In mingle-settings where there are lots of people, I also get a sense of wanting to connect with everyone, so I struggle to get into deeper conversation because there are too many people to connect with.  I get overwhelmed.  So the thing that I look forward to in reunions and gatherings is the group sharing.  Even though it isn’t intimate, and we each package our story into the short five-minute moment we are allotted, we all focus, for those moments, on the one person speaking.  We hear story together, and for a moment, we are a re-gathered community.

Gratitude List:
1. Middle age
2. Reunions and conversation
3. The language of laughter
4. The gravity-loosening power of music
5. October

May we walk in Beauty!

Milkweed and Clouds

Gratitude List:
1. Milkweed and Monarchs.  Milkweed is blooming everywhere this year. Dare I have  hope?
2. Clouds flowing through the sky behind Marie’s sea glass blossom.
3. Public Lament.  Public tears.  Challenge: Don’t go back to sleep.  Don’t get over it.  Don’t forget.
4. Hearing my own words spoken as a blessing, in someone else’s voice.  What a gift.
5. Little boats.  Two boys learned/re-learned how to make paper boats in church today.  One boy is going to make “thousands!”  He is going to set up classes to teach other people how to make boats.  He is talking about how professional paper boat makers might make their creases.  He says things like, “This is how you turn a failure into a success.  You take it back to a hat, and start over from there.”  Yes, Boy.  Always take it back to the hat.  Turn those failures into successes.
6. Family reunion.

May we walk in Beauty!


2014 January 010

Gratitude List:
1.  Reunions.  More reunions.  The college gang.  Such good, thoughtful people, these.  And we really don’t look a day older.
2.  Cirque du Ursa.  A fairy bear with wings.  A cocoon, a butterfly.  Grace.  Watching someone do aerial acrobatics makes me forget, for a few moments, how earthbound my own body is.
3.  Sunrise
4.  Rilke
5.  Warm hats.

May we walk in Beauty.

Landscape Manuscript: An Experiment

Here is a poem that is sort of off my beaten path, out of my kilter, definitely beyond my safety zone.  I started it over a year ago.  It’s a mash-up between poetry of pure sound and a villanelle.  I abandoned it after two stanzas.  Then this week, after I heard a recording on the radio of Gertrude Stein reading some of her poetry, and realizing how the simple sounds moved me deeply, I returned to it.  Here is Landscape Manuscript:

ancient spectrum glinted speculate
responsive orphan mystery spot green
digest interpret dervish deviate

elocution wild landscape percolate
inscribe revision often sigh unseen
ancient spectrum glinting speculate

wily wonders intersperse ameliorate
and if and when and should and mean
digest interpretation dervish deviate

manuscript within divine yet designate
extraordinary rendezvous eloquent serpentine
the ancients spectral glinted speculate

resist revolve re-grow restore renovate
while verdant hallway wren careen
digesting interpret dervish deviate

rushing flitter whirr beyond palpitate
the doorway opens to a realm between
ancient spectrum glinted speculate
digest interpret dervish deviate

2014 January 018

Gratitude List:
1.  Wingprints in the snow
2.  Wind in the breast feathers of the wren
3.  Family.  The Weaver Family Reunion.  I think Grandma must have been smiling tonight.
4.  Tea with honey and ginger
5.  A veritable flood of poetry on the internet in the past couple of days.  (And bonus: the chance to use the word veritable.)

May we walk in Beauty.