Musings, Poems

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?

Poems, Poetry Prompts

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.)

Gratitudes, Musings

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

Gratitudes, Poems, Poetry Prompts

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!

Gratitudes, Musings

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!

Gratitudes, Musings

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!

Gratitudes

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!

Gratitudes, Poems, Poetry Prompts

Back to the Basics

Today’s prompt is Back to Basics:

It’s the original kit:
everything included,
just add water.

And perhaps to make it right,
a little soil,
a little sunlight.

Nothing more basic,
more primal,
more holy in its simplicity
and its intricate complexity
than a seed.

Strew them wildly.
Blow dandelions,
break open milkweed pods
and send them wafting
wantonly over the fields.

Scatter the seeds of the plantain,
joe pye, and stinging nettle.
Broadcast your wild oats
like hope,
like joy,
like a revolution.

Gratitude List:
1. Seeds, especially the apple seeds that are sprouting, the ones the boys wanted to plant.  I started to tell them how it would be useless because apple trees do not grow up true to type, blah-di-blah, and then caught myself: It is never useless to plant a tree with a child.
2. The Affordable Health Care act keeps coming through for me.  I realize it will not necessarily be so for everyone, but we’re certainly in that majority of users predicted to benefit.
3. Magic.  We started reading Jennifer Murdley’s Toad tonight.  When Ellis realized that Mr. Elives and his Magic Shop, from Jeremy Thatcher Dragon Hatcher, appeared in this book, too, he jumped over and hugged me.
4. The gift of sincere apology, and my children reaching the age of reason when they can begin to make sense of the social language of apology.
5. Open hearts.  So many open, compassionate, winsome hearts.

So much love.  May we walk in Beauty!