Gratitudes, Musings, Poems

Finding the Map Home

Repeating some questions I asked myself a year ago:

When have you felt yourself to be your best self?
When have you been most comfortable being who you are?
What would it take to find your way back into that house of yourself?
Did you leave yourself a map?
Is there an old photograph in a dusty album somewhere in your heart
that you can use to guide yourself back to that place?
It might be as simple as taking three deep breaths,
clicking your sneaker-clad heels together three times,
and chanting, “I want to go home, I want to go home,
I want to go home.”
Shall we try it?


A series of Random Musings for a Snowy Day:

“We use language to build the structures upon which we hang our ideas. Language is the scaffold upon which we develop whole structures of thought. Language anchors and shapes and breathes life into thought and idea. Conventional thinking, and conventional language, can end up being a pretty tight little box of a windowless building that doesn’t let in the light. The air in there gets pretty stale. When language—and its attendant ideas—become calcified and crippled into arthritic patterns, poetic image and word-use can find new ways to say things, can break windows into the walls of those airless rooms and build ornate new additions onto the old structures. Poetry jars the cart of language out of its constricting wheel ruts. This is why poets and writers can make good revolutionaries—if they know their work and do their jobs well.” —Beth Weaver-Kreider, 2014
***
“The nuclear arms race is like two sworn enemies standing waist-deep in gasoline, one with three matches, the other with five.” —Carl Sagan
***
Mary Oliver, on the Great Horned Owl: “I know this bird. If it could, it would eat the whole world.” And then: “The world where the owl is endlessly hungry and endlessly on the hunt is the world in which I too live. There is only one world.”
***
Fierce Wild Joy
by Beth Weaver-Kreider, 2016

May this year bring you joy
like crows rising from the fields

fierce
wild joy

yelling full-voice
into the wind

rowing through the tempest
with nothing but feathers.
***
“Have patience with everything
that remains unsolved in your heart.
Try to love the questions themselves,
like locked rooms and like books
written in a foreign language.
Do not now look for the answers.
They cannot now be given to you
because you could not live them.
It is a question of experiencing everything.
At present you need to live the question.
Perhaps you will gradually,
without even noticing it,
find yourself experiencing the answer,
some distant day.”
―Rainer Maria Rilke
***
“With life as short as a half-taken breath, don’t plant anything but love.”
―Jalaluddin Rumi


Gratitude List:
1. Two-hour delays. They wreak havoc on the teachers’ end-of-semester schedules, but 10 o’clock is such a humane hour to begin the work day. Breathe. Sleep in.
2. Bhangra Dance. It’s so joyful, so full of life. I’ve been looking up How-to videos on bhangra dancing. It’s all very funny-looking on my part at this point, because I have both the Mennoniteness and the hobbity-ness to contend with, but at least I get a little exercise, and I entertain the family while I practice.
3. Home remedies. I still have an uncomfortable cold, but I have a hunch all the home remedies helped get me past the trampled-by-rhinos phase.
4. Cold weather. Odd thing for me to say, because I really hate being cold, but it feels right that January be cold. After the mildness of November and early December, this feels right. Still, I will be glad for Spring to begin showing her feathers.
5. Good literature.

May we walk in Beauty!

Poems, Poetry Prompts

A Sestina for All Saints (2 of 2)

I plan to write a poem a day again this November, following the prompts from Robert Lee Brewer’s Poetic Asides blog. Today’s prompt is to write a new day poem. I decided to try another sestina, using new and day as two of the six words, and creating a little end rhyme. It may make it a little too bouncy, and a sestina is a little ambitious for my falling-asleep brain, but it’s all in the name of experimentation.

All Saints Day
a sestina
by Beth Weaver-Kreider

As the veil closes on this day,
day between days when I–and you–
go seeking guides and saints, seeking the way
our dear beloveds have wandered through
the parted curtain: Listen, can you hear them say
the names of all the souls they knew

when their own days were green and new?
Now we ourselves slip from behind the curtain of this day
to follow their singing, to hear them say
our own names. Can you feel how they long for you?
How they seek your attention through
this veil that obscures the way?

How silently they guide you when you lose your way?
Our memories are vast pools they bathe in. They renew
their lives within the waters of the dreams we threw
away. Their memories are thin as cobweb, flashing like a day,
then gone. All they have to hold them here is you–
and me–so we must be careful what we say

about the dead, about the ones who’ve gone before. We say
they’re just a vapor, just a mist, a feather that will weigh
less than a living soul. But we know, me and you,
how light is heavy, how old is new,
how they continue to exist beyond their days,
and how the weight of our own memories brings them through.

And so we speak the names of saints and our beloveds, through
the long nights of the Hallowed Days, we say
their names, we keep them real, we mark the days
and help them through the veil to find their way
back to our joyful tables, set with bread and wine and new
candles. Look how they glow and hover around you.

I will keep this night along with you
and listen as the music whispers through
the mists that rise across the veil, new
pathways drawn between us. We can say
that finally we have found our way
between the curtains and into a new day.

Tomorrow you will step into another day,
find the way between, the way through, find your way
into a new dawn, full of light. You’ll have new names to say.


I needed a brain diversion today, and so I pulled up two Rilke autumn poems and translated them into English. I had forgotten how satisfying translation is.

An Autumn day (Herbsttag)
by Rainer Maria Rilke
translation by E. A. Weaver-Kreider

Lord: it is time. The summer was so long.
Lay your shadow upon the sundials,
and set the winds loose upon the fields.

Command the final fruits to ripen;
give them yet two southerly days,
urge them to fullness and coax
the last sweetness into the earnest wine.

Whoever has no home, has now no time to build.
Whoever is alone, will stay alone a while,
will awaken, read, write long epistles
and in the alleys here and there
will wander, while the leaves drift by.

Fall (Herbst)
by Rainer Maria Rilke
translation by E. A. Weaver-Kreider

The leaves are falling, falling as if from far away,
as if they’ve withered in the distant gardens of the heavens;
they are falling in the gesture of denial.

And through this night the heavy Earth is falling
away from all the stars in lonely space.

We all are falling. This hand falls.
And look at the other one: falling is in everything.

And yet there is One who holds all this falling
in infinitely tender hands.

Gratitudes, Musings, Poems

Lift Up Your Faces

“Lift up your faces, you have a piercing need
For this bright morning dawning for you.
History, despite its wrenching pain,
Cannot be unlived, but if faced
With courage, need not be lived again.
Lift up your eyes upon
The day breaking for you.
Give birth again
To the dream.” —Maya Angelou
*
“With dreamwork, we are endlessly tenderising ourselves to subtletly. When we begin to know its dimensions, pain can no longer envelop us in an indistinct mass. It’s not that we are ridding ourselves of suffering, but rather learning its name, which is the prelude to befriending it.” –Dreamwork with Toko-pa
*
Humility
by Mary Oliver
Poems arrive ready to begin.
Poets are only the transportation.
*
“On the last day of the world
I would want to plant a tree.” —W. S.Merwin
*
“Nature never repeats itself, and the possibilities of one human soul will never be found in another.” —Elizabeth Cady Stanton
*
“All know that the drop merges into the ocean, but few know that the ocean merges into the drop.” —Kabir
*
Mirabai Starr said, “Poetry is a gateway into unitive consciousness. It knocks on the doors of the heart and the heart opens. Poets speak truth in a very naked way that bypasses the rational mind. Poetry evokes, rather than describes.”
*
Kathleen Norris writes, “Poets understand that they do not know what they mean, and that is their strength. . . . Writing teaches us to recognize when we have reached the limits of language, and our knowing, and are dependent on our senses to ‘know’ for us.”
*
“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
*
“Every seed contains the potential to save the world. Each seed can keep millions of people from starvation. Each seed is a mirror and guardian of the world’s future. Each seed is the ecology that can sustain the economy. This is why seeds are sacred…”
—His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew
*
I’m too alone in the world, yet not alone enough
to make each hour holy.
I’m too small in the world, yet not small enough
to be simply in your presence, like a thing–
just as it is.

I want to know my own will
and to move with it.
And I want, in the hushed moments
when the nameless draws near,
to be among the wise ones–
or alone.

I want to mirror your immensity.
I want never to be too weak or too old
to bear the heavy, lurching image of you.
I want to unfold.
Let no place in me hold itself closed,
for where I am closed, I am false.

I want to stay clear in your sight.
I would describe myself
like a landscape I’ve studied
at length, in detail;
like a word I’m coming to understand;
like a pitcher I pour from at mealtime;
like my mother’s face;
like a ship that carried me
when the waters raged.
—Rainer Maria Rilke


Gratitude List:
1. Teenagers: Asking open, thoughtful questions. Offering deep honesty. Sharing stories.
2. Cats. I know I am obsessed with the cats these days, but they really are caretakers of the soul of a home, and these two are settling into their role beautifully. (Though it can be a little hard to sleep with one on my chest and the other on my feet. I am a tosser and turner.)
3. Did I say teenagers? The energy of this UNICEF club at school, young people who are eager and intent to make a difference, to help a hurting world. They teach me so much about jumping in with an open heart.
4. October morning mists. Surreal and magickal. Moody.
5. Feathers. Guardian angels. Reminders to fly. Messages from Spirit. Invitations to stand in the presence of Beauty.

May we walk in Beauty.

Gratitudes, Poems

“Grow, Grow!”

“Sacred activism is the fusion of the mystic’s passion for God with the activist’s passion for justice — creating a third fire, which is the burning sacred heart that longs to help, preserve, and nurture every living thing. ” ―Andrew Harvey
*
“What’s lost is nothing to what’s found, and all the death that ever was, set next to life, would scarcely fill a cup.” ―Frederick Buechner
*
“Listen to the night as it makes itself hollow.” ―Rainer Maria Rilke
*
Every blade of grass has its Angel that bends over it and whispers, “Grow, grow.” ―The Talmud
*
“Choosing authenticity and worthiness is an absolute act of resistance. Choosing to live and love with our whole hearts is an act of defiance. You’re going to confuse, piss off, and terrify lots of people, including yourself. One minute you’ll pray that the transformation stops, and the next minute you’ll pray that it never ends. You’ll also wonder how you can feel so brave and so afraid at the same time.” ―Brene Brown
*
“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
*
“Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.” ―Elie Wiesel
*
“The seduction in the wake of betrayal is to take up a thicker armour, to practice at expecting less of others, or to punish one’s own naïveté. But these are the same refusals from which our world is dying. Never should a judgement be made against one’s willingness to open the heart.” ―Dreamwork with Toko-pa
*
“I’m so lucky we lived through who we were to become who we are.” ―Neil Hillborn
*
Prayer for Kyla (in Tanka)
Beth Weaver-Kreider (a 2 years ago―grateful today)

breathing in patience
breathing out worry and fear
breathing in silence
breathing healing, breathing hope
breathing light, breathing courage

*
“Grace bats last.” ―Anne Lamott


Gratitude List:
1. Vegetable stromboli. So satisfying. I think I am going to make it lots this summer with whatever veggies we have on hand.
2. The sound of the wind singing in my hoop earrings.
3. A clean house and a mowed lawn. Now I want to just be here.
4. The mumbly wuv-yous of bluebirds. All day in the hollow: “There, there. It’s all okay. See here, I wuv you, wuv you.”
5. A roomful of stories: A friend of mine challenged his FB friends to try to tell a story about themselves that no one else on the thread would have done or experienced. I copied him, and the stories that have come from that one prompt are amazing. Funny, terrifying, richly inspiring, mortifying, humanizing. I don’t know if I have ever hosted such a successful party.

May we walk in Beauty!

Gratitudes, Poems

Prepositions and Polarities

Gratitude List:
1. So many faerie diamonds a-dazzle in the sunlight on the ice on the River in the morning.
2. Prepositions
3. Holding the polarities
4. Valuing my work
5. This poem by Rilke:
I live my life in widening circles
that reach out across the world.
I may not complete this last one
but I give myself to it.

I circle around God, around the primordial tower.
I’ve been circling for thousands of years
and I still don’t know: am I a falcon,
a storm, or a great song?

May we walk in Beauty.

Last year, I read something by Rob Brezsny, in which he challenged people to look at that Rilke poem and use it as a template for their own poem.  Here’s mine for today:
I live my life in widening circles
that reach out across time and space.
I may not complete this last one
but I give myself to it.

I circle around the Mystery, around that ancient tor.
I have been circling all my many lives
and I still don’t know: am I a the dancer,
the crone, or the ineffable fool?