Advent 19: The Value of Being Seen

by Gustave Doré

At the public school where my ten-year-old son is in fifth grade, the principal has taught the students the South African greeting, “Sawabona,” which translates to, “I see you.”

They respond, “Sawabona sikhona.”

“Because you see me, I am here.”

I have a friend who simply tells me that in English, usually when we’ve had a deep and meaningful conversation. “I See You.”

I feel Seen.

Just yesterday, I had a moment of feeling Seen. While much of my demeanor is heart-on-my-sleeve, I have my masks, the little disguises I wear to cover and protect parts of myself that don’t feel safe to reveal in certain settings. It was a little thing, really, but it opened up a tiny nest of calm in a place where belonging can sometimes feel a little tenuous.

It was only a book recommendation, offered in a quiet moment. But it felt like a gift, a way of saying, “I See You.” Not a tearing off of my mask, but a nod to the truth beneath it.

My masks are part of the shadows that I am exploring in these days of walking into darkness. Every shadow that I cling to has its purpose, its protection, and some I must release into the light when light returns, but others protect vulnerable and tender selves, make it possible for parts of me to move and flow in social circles. I’ll shine my little light on these protective shadow-masks here in the labyrinth, but keep them in place, and be glad of the people who know even these little parts of who I am.

Some of our masks keep us from being seen, being known. The protection becomes solid armor and the shadow takes on tangibility, beyond their need to protect, instead keeping people away, keeping people from knowing who we are. I have students who are wrapped up in their protective shadows with such care that they appear almost invisible.

The gentle work of tending to these quiet souls needs not a harsh and blinding light, but the golden glow of the little candles we’ve been nursing in this walk through the labyrinth. Let’s be a safe and nurturing circle, where we can look someone in the eyes and say with words or glance: “I See You.”

Gratitude List:
1. Being Seen
2. Something is lifting. Today, I feel the little animal of my spirit is lifting its nose and sensing the coming Sunreturn. Instead of two more days of walking into darkness, I feel two more days until Sunreturn, and that feels like a big inner shift for me.
3. Foxes. Yesterday I read the page on foxes to my students from my advent book, All Creation Waits. (If you are reading it too, I am a few days ahead, because I want to read them the Christmas reading on Friday.) And this morning, I was sifting through a deck of inspirational cards I keep near me, and today’s character, synchronously, is the fox. All the senses tuned. Ears cocked. The mystery of inner knowing.
4. Chocolate. Yesterday, I sort-of-but-maybe-not-quite accidentally listened to the hearing on the radio. After only a little while, I was in desperate need of chocolate, and my beloved obliged.
5. Anticipation

May we walk in Beauty!

Protector of the Children

This woman is from a really recent dream/image. I frequently wake up with dream-images in my head, or fragments of song, or a word or phrase, instead of a story. In this case, the central woman is wearing flowing blue robes, and lined along the edges of her cloak are children that she is protecting. She is very much a Mary-figure, and the children are safe in the folds of her cloak. There are dozens and dozens of them. May it be so.

Gratitude List:
1. The ones who protect children. Thank you.
2. The water protectors and earth protectors. Thank you.
3. Core values and deep conscience. We had a lengthy and powerful discussion in a class yesterday about making choices based on core values. My students are wise.
4. Refried beans and tortillas. Weeks ago, Jon made an enormous pot of refried beans, and froze the leftovers in batches. I love refried beans and tortillas.
5. Wordplay.

May we walk in Beauty!

Wherever You Stand

Gratitude List:
1. Anticipating a family day
2. Safety
3. Creative outlets
4. Pumpkins (Yes, even the spices that do with them–feel free to judge me.)
5. The ones who fight for justice

May we walk in Beauty!

Wherever You Stand
by Beth Weaver-Kreider

“Wherever you stand, be the soul of that place.” –Rumi

Be the spark, the knowingness,
the mother of the moment,
be the dream, the home, and the hope.
Wherever you stand, be the stone
and the wind. Yes, be the wind
in the trees of the soul of a place.
Wherever you stand, be a memory,
a hope of the future remembering
we all lived together in peace.

“A quiet secluded life in the country, with the possibility of being useful to people to whom it is easy to do good, and who are not accustomed to have it done to them; then work which one hopes may be of some use; then rest, nature, books, music, love for one’s neighbor—such is my idea of happiness.” —Leo Tolstoy

“I don’t have to chase extraordinary moments to find happiness. It’s right in front of me, if I’m paying attention and practicing gratitude.” —Brené Brown

“You pray for the hungry. Then you feed them.
That is how prayer works.” —Pope Francis

“Allow dark times to season you.” —Hafiz

“Oh, to love what is lovely, and will not last!” —Mary Oliver

“I don’t have to figure it all out. I don’t have to be perfect for every moment. I just need to be Present. I just need to show up.” —Beth Weaver-Kreider (My past self is preaching to my present self.)

“The ego forgets that it’s supposed to be the little traveler with its bindle bag over its shoulder, following behind [not ahead] the radiant Soul who walks as more wise, more tender, more loving, more peaceful trailblazer throughout our lives.

Ego aspires sometimes to wear the garments of the Soul, which are way too big, making the ego trip over the miles of radiant robes it tries to wrap itself in, instead of following the light those robes give off. And tending to the Soul’s needs, the Soul’s directions.

Yet with Soul in the lead, and ego following the lead of the Soul, then we can fulfill the vision of the Holy People…” —Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes

“Driven by the forces of love, the fragments of the world are seeking one another.” —Teilhard de Chardin



Today’s prompt is a two-fer: write a natural/unnatural poem.

by Beth Weaver-Kreider

He would seem to be the most (un)-
natural choice to advise the lead-
er of the free world. He has ex-
perience leading the campaign and un-
paralleled gall and pretense.

How many steps does it take to es-
calate the normalizing test of o-
bedience? To groom the public, to in-
culcate the people with the anes-
thetizing waves of constant down-
ward steps, until all resistance is fu-

Gratitude List:
1. Heidi was right. Sometimes carbs are what you need. That sourdough bread she gave me was out of this world, and just the medicine for the moment.
2. Safety and symbols of safety.
3. Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Sophie Scholl
4. Sunset on the way home this evening. Such clouds.
5. Those fire bushes in the woods and how they sparkle in the morning light.

May we walk in Beauty!

All Our Children

EWK 4 001

Gratitude List:
1. I am grateful that my friend’s surgery seems to have gone well.
2. I am grateful that we were able to get a much better interest rate for our mortgage (more of a mundane concern than I usually write about perhaps, but this is a grace that comes at a good time).
3. I am grateful that there are always enough hours in a day, even though it sometimes doesn’t seem like it.
4. I am grateful that the sun will return again.
5. I am grateful that my children have safety and comfort.  My prayer is for safety and love for all our children.  They are all our children.

May we walk in Beauty!


That’s today’s prompt: swing.  I think I will try a lai with this one.  Nine lines, aabaabaab rhyme scheme, and the a lines are 5 syllables, while the b lines are 2.

I need you to know
how strong you will grow.
This thing
cannot keep you low,
will not stop your flow.
You’ll swing
while the wild winds blow,
you’ll pass to and fro
and sing.

I wanted to write a longer and more in-depth piece to someone, about unconditional love and being deserving of love, but this will hold the place for that, and hopefully say a little of what I want to get across.


Gratitude List:
1. Being trusted
2. Trusting
3. Safe places
4. Glory clouds
5. Forsythia, forsythia, forsythia

Take my hand.  May we walk in Beauty.

Look Out the Window

My friend Mara’s poetry Prompt from last Saturday (I’m a late bloomer):  “Look out the window. Notice what’s there. Notice what’s not there. Write about it.”

Outside my window in the dying day
the little wooden spring house
is a smudge of white
set among the briars
at the edge of the little bosque.

Outside my window
the pear tree begins
to push its leaves
into being.

Like the fox that dashed
over the hillside in the winter
you have passed
through this place
and away.
I wish I could have offered you both
a place of safety.

April 045

Gratitude List:
1.  The bombastic and creative robot parade.  Hours of fun with cardboard boxes.
2.  Clearing away the vines
3.  Respectful disagreement, and how it helps me to be a better version of me when you respect me enough to disagree with me
4.  A new book of poetry is taking shape!
5.  Words, lovely words, especially adjectives: recursive, numinous, bombastic, noetic. . .

May we walk in beauty.