Maker’s Monday

Look at that violet and indigo swirl of cloud above the barn.

Not much to say today. I’m going to make masks, make zines, create writing prompts for a project, crochet the arms of a doll I started over the weekend. Read. Make a cherry cobbler with the sour cherries my neighbor gave me. Watch for Beauty. Plot the Revolution. Pet cats. Stretch and walk and learn some more Spanish. I suppose that’s my Gratitude List for today–looking forward to a week of making and noticing and working on inner transformation in order to keep participating in world-changing events of the day.

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


“I sometimes visualize the ongoing cycle of racism as a moving walkway at the airport. Active racist behavior is equivalent to walking fast on the conveyor belt. The person engaged in active racist behavior has identified with the ideology of our White supremacist system and is moving with it. Passive racist behavior is equivalent to standing still on the walkway. No overt effort is being made, but the conveyor belt moves the bystanders along to the same destination as those who are actively walking. But unless they are walking actively in the opposite direction at a speed faster than the conveyor belt—unless they are actively anti-racist—they will find themselves carried along with the others.” —Beverly Tatum


“The Holocaust was not the holocaust until it was too late.” —James Regier


“People are hard to hate close up. Move in. Speak truth to bullshit. Be civil. Hold hands. With strangers. Strong back. Soft front. Wild heart. ❤️” —Brené Brown


“We cannot tire or give up. We owe it to the present and future generations of all species to rise up and walk!” ―Wangari Maathai


“If you can see your path laid out in front of you step by step, you know it’s not your path. Your own path you make with every step you take. That’s why it’s your path.” ―Joseph Campbell


“Every person who has ever achieved anything has been knocked down many times. But all of them picked themselves up and kept going, and that is what I have always tried to do.” ―Wangari Maathai


“It is the people who must save the environment. It is the people who must make their leaders change. And we cannot be intimidated. So we must stand up for what we believe in.” ―Wangari Maathai


“How many kinds of beauty exist in nature? A sunset’s beauty is not the same as a river’s beauty is not the same as a newborn’s beauty is not the same as a kind act’s beauty is not the same as an old oak tree’s beauty. And yet, they are the same. Why do you think that is?” —Jarod K. Anderson


“The eyes of the future are looking back at us and they are praying for us to see beyond our own time. . . . To protect what is wild is to protect what is gentle. Perhaps the wilderness we fear is the pause between our own heartbeats, the silent space that says we live only by grace. Wilderness lives by this same grace. Wild mercy is in our hands.” —Terry Tempest Williams


“The extremists are afraid of books and pens, the power of education frightens them. They are afraid of women.” ―Malala Yousafzai


“There is no exquisite beauty without some strangeness in the proportion.” ―Edgar Allen Poe


“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” ―Mark Twain


“It is a wholesome and necessary thing for us to turn again to the earth and in the contemplation of her beauties to know the sense of wonder and humility. ” ―Rachel Carson


“…drink in the beauty and wonder at the meaning of what you see.” ―Rachel Carson

Breathe. Ground. Prepare.

Sweet Shining and Shadowy Beloveds:
This morning, it’s hard to keep believing in justice, hard to keep the long view in mind, hard to hold a vision of a world in which people of courage make decisions for the good of all, with wisdom, humility, and honor.

Part of me longs to enumerate all the horrors and destructions of the past week, to see the hurts laid out like a cadaver, to identify each killing blow, each bruise, each scar.

But that would only serve to feed the rising panic that’s been gathering in my gut this week, and perhaps in yours, too. Those pieces will come later, in poems. But now it’s time to tend to ourselves, to shore up and take stock and plan our way forward.

Let’s fight this collective panic attack. If we’re left lost and quivering, we only feed their power. Oh yes, I’m lost this morning, and quivering, too, re-traumatized. Let’s acknowledge it, notice where it lodges in our bodies.

My muscles actually ache from all the tightness I’ve been holding in. My head is pounding and my brain is foggy.

Now, it’s time to push back the panic:
Breathe in.
Straighten your spine. Lower your shoulders.
Breathe out.
Roll your neck and shoulders.
Stretch and wriggle your spine until you feel yourself to be a line drawn between heaven and earth, a conduit of energy that flows through you.
Breathe in. Breathe out.

Notice every place your body is touching a surface. Notice the sensations in your body.
My backside and thighs on the chair. One foot on the floor, one on a chair rail. This cozy jacket keeps me just warm enough. My tongue’s a little scalded from that first sip of coffee.

What do you hear?
The water in the cat’s drinking fountain, a small boy clicking his tongue, the creaking of an old house on a chilly morning.

What do you taste? (Grab a bite of something, or remember a favorite taste sensation.)
The bite of pepper and the creamy counterpart in the pepperjack cheese.

What do you smell?
Coffee, vanilla, springtime

Look around you. Find a color, a texture, a beautiful thing.
The shining scarlet drop of red on the head of that downy woodpecker. The sweet, soft salmon leaves of the Japanese maple, still clinging to the branches and twigs. So many winter goldfinches on the thistle bag!

Now, here we are in the doorway of a new season.
Today and tomorrow mark the beginning of Imbolc, the Season of Stirrings. New life is coming, cold snap or not. Sap will rise. Seeds will sprout. The Earth spins and whirls on in her dance through the cosmos.

One of the old names for today is Candlemas, when we acknowledge how the light has been within us all along, how much light we have to offer. Take stock of your candles. What is the small flame that you can offer the world in this moment? What is the fuel that you share?

Perhaps you are already doing it–tending daily to children or calling your senators, teaching teenagers to ask discerning questions or planting seeds for the crops that will feed your neighbors, healing bodies, gathering friends, listening. Today, this week, this month, do that work like a prayer, like a magic spell. Do it with intention, knowing that your work is changing the world, that what you do is fighting the forces of wanton destruction and power-mongering.

And maybe take up another thing this week. Make cranes for the Tsuru for Solidarity March, when Japanese Americans for social justice will be marching on Washington in early June to demand the closure of internment camps in the United States. Become an advocate for immigration reform. Send money or food to groups who are taking food to asylum-seekers forced to wait in inhumane conditions in Mexico. Express your support for Muslim people, and people from African and Asian countries which have been added to the US travel bans. Help people register to vote.

To combat the lies and obfuscations: Speak truth. Magically. Prayerfully.
To combat the normalized cruelty: Speak compassion and tenderness. Prayerfully. Magically.
To combat the power-mongering: Share your privilege. Offer the microphone, the stage, the moment. Do it prayerfully. Do it magically.
To combat the greed-mongering: Be generous. Give. Share. Do it magically and prayerfully.

Another ancient name for this day, this season, is Brigid, after the ancient goddess of the Celtic peoples, who offered her muse to poets, to metalworkers, and to healers. She later became syncretized with the beloved St. Brighid, and so this aspect of human understanding of the Divine was not lost. Water and flame and word are her tools, her symbols. Today, make a poem, or make art, or make a nourishing broth to honor the gifts the Holy One has given you to make and change and heal. Do it prayerfully, as an act of defiant hope in the face of lies and cruelty and greed.

And also, this is the Groundhog’s moment. Tomorrow is the day when we check on the burrowers and the underworld dwellers. What light do they see? What shadows? In Advent, we walked into our own shadows. On Epiphany, we celebrated our light. And now, as we feel the heavy weight of the week’s shadows like a physical burden upon our shoulders, we must acknowledge and greet our own shadows. How do they give us power? How do they sap our power? Can we work with them instead of against them? Can we find their deepest meanings?

We can’t know what the coming days will bring. Too many signs point toward historical repetitions that turn me to salt, to stone. I freeze. I feel small and insignificant. But I must remember, constantly: Nothing we do now–to fight the tides of hatred and cruelty, to stand between the powerful and the vulnerable, to create holiness and beauty and health–will be wasted, no matter what happens. Now, perhaps more than ever, every act of hope and healing and love matters.

And:

We are not alone. You are not alone. Reach out. Take hands. Build the webs. Ask for help, and be the helper.

Let’s situate ourselves so that we are always ready–strong enough, centered enough, grounded enough–to step up and do the work of love and compassion and justice, to stand up, to stand between, to risk, to raise our voices, to be the fierce and defiant hope for the future we want to create.

Heart’s Revolution

Gratitude List:
1. How the smell of coffee begins to revive me, even before the first sip.
2. Featherbed weather.
3. Thursdays that are Fridays.
4. Red and orange trees, and how they focus the blue behind them.
5. Morning silence. Lately, the noise of the day occasionally feels like an assault. I need to store up morning silence like cool water and sip from the memory well of it all through the day.

May we walk in Beauty!

Voices Made of Fire

If you could trust your voice completely,
if you didn’t have to consider how how others would respond,
if you didn’t have to be safe, to be tame, to be docile and
humble, acceptable and charming and quiet,
if you had not been trained to make your words
into an easy chair, to turn your voice to honey:
What would you say?

Directions: How Not to Have a Revolution

How Not to Have a Revolution

The elephant went rogue in the forest,
stepping on the ant hills,
destroying everything for the sheer pleasure of destruction.

The ants began to mobilize.
They organized a thousand little Armies of Resistance,
each with powerful leaders and Solid Plans.

Here is a Truth:
There were enough ants in the forest
to carry that old elephant away.
All their united strength and energy
could have saved the forest.

Instead, things went south
pretty much from the beginning.
The ants could not check their tribalism.
They were suspicious of all outsiders,
even (particularly) among their own kind.

On the ruined mounds of their separate anthills
they began to call, not for the removal of the elephant,
but for the annihilation of enemy tribes.
Only when enemy tribes were dealt with
would it be possible to remove the elephant, they said.

By the time the ants had dealt with their own internal battles,
the elephant had won the day,
and the forest was utterly destroyed.

(Today’s Prompt from Poetic Asides was to write a Directions Poem.)

Legends and Lines

  

 

I recognize that today is the United States independence day. It’s always crunchy for me.

I don’t celebrate war and war “victories.”
I don’t celebrate a freedom that was borne on the backs of slaves.
I don’t celebrate the genocide that wiped out, marginalized and impoverished the people of the first nations.
I don’t celebrate a freedom that ignores our slave-owning and genocidal history to proclaim us all-good and all-powerful, evidence to the contrary.
I don’t celebrate the increasing calls to close us off, to keep out those who seek sanctuary within our borders.
I don’t celebrate throwing candy to the rich while grabbing bread from the poor.
I don’t celebrate the rush to destroy this beautiful part of the Earth, to call her gifts “resources” that must be maximized and used until she is played out.
I don’t celebrate the fear-mongering that I see, the use of fear to keep people in their places, afraid of each other, afraid of their own freedom.
I don’t celebrate “America First.”
I struggle to celebrate when the country itself is in crisis, when those who were chosen to administer our ship of state have instead chosen to rule like the king we thought we had freed ourselves from those centuries ago.

I can celebrate human community.
I can celebrate the spirit that longs to break the bonds of tyranny for all peoples.
I can celebrate the spirit of that statue that stands in our harbor, her lamp held high in welcome for all who seek refuge.
I can celebrate the strong spirit of resistance to tyranny that continues to pull people to demand rights for ALL of us.
I can celebrate the beautiful diversity of us, and the way we find connecting points, the way we so willingly wear each others’ stories.
I can celebrate the music, the foodways, the arts, the dialects, the histories, of us in all our many colors and shades and tones and temperaments.
I can celebrate inTERdependence.
I can celebrate the hope that we will stand up to the greed-mongers and the fear-mongers and the hate-mongers, that we will work to create a nation where all can be free, where all can expect justice.


Gratitude List:
1. Good food from many cultures. This week we’ve specialized in Asian foods. Thai-Khmer food on Tuesday evening, and Indian food this noon.
2. Spice
3. Establishing routines
4. I am so fortunate in family. I do not ever want to take that for granted.
5. The reminder that tyrants get booted right out

May we walk in Beauty (and Revolution and Transformation)!


“If you want to awaken all of humanity, then awaken all of yourself. If you want to eliminate the suffering in the world, then eliminate all that is dark and negative in yourself. Truly, the greatest gift you have to give is that of your own self-transformation.” ―Lao Tzu
*
“The heart is the house of empathy whose door opens when we receive the pain of others. This is where bravery lives, where we’ll find our mettle to give and receive, to love and be loved, to stand in the center of uncertainty with strength, not fear, understanding this is all there is. The heart is the path to wisdom because it dares to be vulnerable in the presence of power.”
—Terry Tempest Williams
*
“You are something that the Whole Universe is doing, in the same way that a wave is something that the Whole Ocean is doing…” ―Alan Watts
*
“You are beautiful, and I have loved you dearly, more dearly than the spoken word can tell.” —Roger Whittaker
*
“It’s a matter of discipline. When you’ve finished washing and dressing each morning, you must tend to your planet.” —Antoine de Saint-Exupery in “The Little Prince”
*
“To cope with losing our world requires us to descend through the anger into mourning and sadness, not speedily bypass them to jump onto the optimism bandwagon or escape into indifference. And with this deepening, an extended caring and gratitude may open us to what is still here, and finally, to acting accordingly.” —Per Espen Stoknes
*
. . .if truth is to be taught, then teaching and learning must take the shape of truth itself–a community of faithful relationships. Education in truth must bring teacher and student into troth with each other, into the very image of the truth it hopes to convey.” —Parker J. Palmer
*
“No matter what they ever do to us, we must always act for the love of our people and the earth. We must not react out of hatred against those who have no sense.” ― John Trudell
*
“I celebrate independence anywhere it happens. The question here is how. When a diversity of peoples is destroyed or diminished in a holocaust of outrageous proportions for independence, does this truly result in liberty, justice and freedom for all? In a few generations indigenous peoples of America have been reduced to one-half of one percent. Imagine Africa with one-half of one percent Africans. We have been essentially disappeared in the story of America. Our massive libraries of knowledge, rich cultural and intellectual gifts have been disparaged, destroyed and broken by interloper religions and a hierarchical system of thought in which indigenous people exist only as savages. What then does this say about liberty and justice in this country?

“For healing the wound needs to be opened, purged and cleansed. Our stories need to be allowed. Our traditional ways and languages need to be honored. This country needs to apologize and reparations must be made. We all need to come together, every one of us to make a true plan for liberty and justice for all. As long as indigenous peoples are disappeared and disparaged, or surface only in Hollywood movies like The Lone Ranger, this country will remain as a child without parents, who has no sense of earth, history or spirituality.” —Joy Harjo

Broken Vessel

Today’s Prompt is to write a response poem. I’m tired and grouchy, so this might have to be it for tonight–more prose than poem. I have grading to do and a manuscript to edit.

Outrage
by Beth Weaver-Kreider

Every day, another outrage,
a rage outside the norms.
And yet, it’s only what we expect
from a man who began
by race-baiting the Mexicans
and took it down from there.

Day by day, the rages get outer and outer.
You think that escalator couldn’t carry him
any lower, but it does,
and he’s jumping up and down
to make it go faster.

Can’t ignore it because it doesn’t go away.
Can’t respond because he begs attention.
Hate and outrage feed the monster,
but silence normalizes, so we’re caught
in this limbo of no right response.


Gratitude List:
1. Fairy Tales
2. Poetry
3. Songs
4. Awakenings
5. Revelation and revolution

May we walk in Beauty!

Revolution of the Heart

“The greatest challenge of the day is: how to bring about a revolution of the heart, a revolution which has to start with each one of us?” ―Dorothy Day
*
“I have long since come to believe that people never mean half of what they say, and that it is best to disregard their talk and judge only their actions.” ―Dorothy Day
*
“Don’t worry about being effective. Just concentrate on being faithful to the truth.”
―Dorothy Day
*
“I really only love God as much as I love the person I love the least.”
―Dorothy Day
*
“The Gospel takes away our right forever, to discriminate between the deserving and the undeserving poor.”
―Dorothy Day
*
I’m not very good at praying, but what I experience when I’m writing a poem is close to prayer. I feel it in different degrees and not with every poem. But in certain ways writing is a form of prayer.” ―Denise Levertov
*
“Some believe it is only great power that can hold evil in check, but that is not what I have found. It is the small everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keep the darkness at bay. Small acts of kindness and love. Why Bilbo Baggins? Perhaps because I am afraid, and he gives me courage.”
―Gandalf
*
“Look deep into nature and you will understand everything better.” ―attributed to Albert Einstein
*
Look into me, for I am the light in your eyes. ―Rumi
*
“People say, what is the sense of our small effort? They cannot see that we must lay one brick at a time, take one step at a time. A pebble cast into a pond causes ripples that spread in all directions. Each one of our thoughts, words and deeds is like that. No one has a right to sit down and feel hopeless. There is too much work to do.”
―Dorothy Day
*
“When it comes down to it, even on the natural plane, it is much happier and more enlivening to love than to be loved.”
―Dorothy Day
*
“Paperwork, cleaning the house, dealing with the innumerable visitors who come all through the day, answering the phone, keeping patience and acting intelligently, which is to find some meaning in all that happens–these things, too, are the works of peace.”
―Dorothy Day
*
“An act of love, a voluntary taking on oneself of some of the pain of the world, increases the courage and love and hope of all.” ―Dorothy Day


Gratitude List:
1. I hear: My family members singing and humming and whispering to themselves as they go about the work and play of the evening.
2. I see: Incredible photos that my friends post online. Such beauty there is in the world, and such tender eyes my friends have to notice and mark it.
3. I feel: The perfect temperatures of this week. A little cool, a little warm. Thermal delight.
4. I smelled: Coffee brewing.
5. I tasted: Broccoli on toast with melted cheese. And applesauce. Delicious supper.

May we walk in Beauty!

Tactics for the Resistance

vulture
I choose the vulture today because vultures are watchers. And vultures are composters, taking what is dead and decaying and turning it into the energy that gives them flight. May we, too, take the old and decayed and rotten, and use it to create flight and vision. [This particular piece is an altered photo (I took the original from the internet that was labeled for noncommercial reuse with modification).  I love those long primaries.]

In the weeks leading up to the election, a local pastor wrote a regular blog on the theme, “Love is Our Resistance.” That phrase keeps coming back to me these days. I have a sense deep in my gut that these next years are going to demand serious resistance, like the prayerful peaceful protests at Standing Rock, like the life-on-the-line peaceful demonstrations led by Martin Luther King and John Lewis and so many others. Perhaps these are the days for the new revolution. I imagine the call to the movement:

And what shall be your resistance?
Love is our resistance!
And what shall be your revolution?
Our revolution will be Peace!
What will be your tactics?
Open hearts. Prayer. Standing in the gap. Believing in each other. Speaking truth against the barrage of lies.

Peaceful, heart-led revolution is not a new thing. On this weekend when we commemorate the life and ideas of Martin Luther King, it seems perfectly fitting that people around the country are considering what their methods of resistance will be for the coming years. Let us take Martin Luther King as one of our pillars as we walk into the uncertain future.

Yesterday, a thought that has been forming within me since November 9 finally broke through the veil into words. It is this: These times will demand something new of us, and will shape our characters in ways we could have not imagined. As we rise to this work, we will become our best selves in ways we might not have, had we not had to meet the challenges that are coming our way.

I had read Clarrissa Pinkola Estes’ essay “We Were Made for These Times” to my students on Friday, and her words helped me to think this through. It’s not that I am grateful for the way things have gone. I am deeply troubled. Still, we can meet this as an opportunity to grow into our best selves, to let our souls shine. In the end, we will have become stronger, more loving and thoughtful people than we might have if we did not have these difficult days to face.

Keep reaching out. Look for the others who are doing the work of Loving Resistance. When you feel despair creeping upon you, find some small act of resistance you can do to further the revolution. If you know me well, you will hear me talking to myself.
* Tell radical truth. Confront the lies with truth and beauty and art and loving action.
* Encourage someone who is doing the Work.
* Write a postcard, make a call, stand on a street corner with a sign.
* Smile at people. Assume the best of people. Be someone who makes people want to be their Best Selves.
* Pray, in whatever way you pray. Pray in church, in synagogue, at the mosque, in the woods, in your kitchen, on the banks of the rivers. Hold stones. Make magic spells. Cast webs of prayer between you and those who are most vulnerable: the poor, immigrants, people of color, LGBTQI people, women, the Earth.
* Listen more than speaking.
*Live your prayers into being.
* Don’t feel like you always have to take a side. Just do the work. Be present to the situation in the moment, and do the work that needs to be done, whether it be speaking against the lie, or taking hands, or praying, or standing between vulnerable people and hatred.

What are your tactics for resistance?

Gratitude List:
1. Resistance and revolution
2. All those who have gone before. We have such a multitude of people who have gone before us who have practiced this form of resistance, who show us the way. Today I think in particular about the words and actions of Martin Luther King.
3. Awakenings
4. The Best Selves we are all becoming
5. You. We’re in this together, and I know that everything will be fine in the end, because you are there, doing your work, too–loving, praying, helping, holding.

May we walk in Beauty!

Hearts in the Trees

DSCN9072
(I have a friend who takes pictures of hearts that she finds in the world, and another friend who takes pictures of trees that she loves.  Here is a heart.  And I love this tree.)

Gratitude List:
1. Hearts.  Trees.  Hearts in trees.   The friends who draw them to my attention.
2. All this blooming.  Everywhere.  You’re blooming too, I think.
3. A day off and hanging out with my muchachos.
4. Arts.  I have been thinking a lot lately about how the arts make us more fully human, more compassionate with ourselves and others, more able to deal with and comprehend our secret inner worlds.  I want to do more to incorporate more art into my teaching, to encourage my students to incorporate more art into their projects.
5. Stories of Holy Week.  I have always thought of Jesus as a revolutionary, but somehow this year I have been struck in a more powerful way with the way the stories of Holy Week portray him: the street theater of the donkey ride into the city, the anarchism of the temple cleansing, the subversive answers to the establishment, the way he turned everybody’s expectations upside-down. (How sad that this story is so often used instead to enforce the status quo.)

May we walk in Beauty!