Gratitude List: 1. Joy runs underneath it all, like an underground river, even when things on the surface are dry and barren. 2. Misty mornings. Sun shining through the mist in the mornings. 3. How last year’s plans inform this year’s work. 4. Rhythms, seasons, cycles. 5. Color, texture, pattern–in the visual field, and in writing and speaking and music.
Today I am home from school with a sick child. It’s a nice chance for some slow, quiet time in between checking his temperature and beating him mercilessly at a game of Monopoly.
It’s Ash Wednesday, the beginning of that 40-day journey before Easter, a moon-bound season between the season of Brigid and the season of Ostara. As spokes on the eight-pointed solar wheel, Brigid and Ostara occur on the same days every solar year: Groundhog’s Day and Spring Equinox, ancient celebrations of the quickening of life in the earth, and the time of hatching and birth that is spring. But Lent is fluid, floating along the surface of the solar year, woven into the cycles of the moon and its dance with that Equinox sun. On Brigid’s February morning, we look to our shadows and consider whether the light we have within us will serve us until the spring. We take stock of our inner reserves and resources. In Lent, we take that question further, considering the question of enough.
During Lent, we look inward and wonder at the holes and spaces within. We see our lack, and instead of shrinking away in fear and despair, we say, “Yes,” and “Yes” again. Here is who I am. I know that I can be one who betrays the Holy One, one with the potential to deny my beloved. I know how I can cringe in fear, hide in shadow, whimper and whine in dread and shame. And I know, too, that I can walk toward those shadows within myself, because only in walking through those shadows will I encounter the shining lights that sparkle on the other side–also within me.
Last night, I gathered with a group of colleagues and students from my school to participate in the first of five Racial Justice Trainings (workshops? seminars? mentoring sessions?) that will happen throughout the spring. During the evening, our facilitator, Dr. Amanda Kemp, challenged us to keep a journal during these weeks of trainings, to ground and center ourselves so that we can hold space for transformation, to walk toward our fear, to challenge our assumptions and implicit biases. It feels to me like just the discipline to take up on this moon-clad journey toward Easter, to consider this time of training as my Lenten Work.
So often we get Lent wrong. We think we have to do penance for our evil ways, to enshroud ourselves in shame, to bewail our miserable selves. But when we simply throw it all off as just an exercise in self-flagellation, I think we get it wrong, too. This is a time to look realistically at who we are inside, what our strengths and our failings are. Lent is a time of discipline–not beatings and beratings, but careful training and thoughtful self-education. Amanda inspires me to take hold of this coming season as a time to consider my accountability, to look at the ways in which I participate in the unjust systems of today, just as the religious elite at the turn of the millennium participated in the destructive systems of their day. In this season, I commit myself to assess my inner world, to take stock of my role in the breaches and breaks, to walk toward my fears, to become a mender and repairer of the web.
Gratitude of Resistance Twenty-Seven: Oak leaves. I find myself getting obsessed with oaks at this time of year. The maples are mostly bare, and the walnuts have long ago dropped their leaves. But the oaks muscle through, holding onto their leaves longer than the rest, all shades of brown and ochre and umber and maroon. When we go walking, it’s oak leaves my eyes are finding: chestnut oak, white oak, red oak, pin oak. . .
Wishing you joy on this day of thankfulness for harvest and for beloveds. If family is difficult for you, I wish you friends, peace, quiet reflection, and grace in the minefields of conversations.
The last poetry prompt of the month is to write a closing time poem.
The door stands ajar.
The curtain rises.
The window is open
and the screen is torn.
The moment has come
to escape the old ways
and enter into the new drama,
to dance down new pathways,
to fly toward a new horizon.
Begin the Play!
That’s an exciting prompt for a Beltane Eve. May Day is about running through the door, barefoot and maybe naked, but completely unconcerned, willing to take the necessary risks to accomplish your dreams. What will you risk in the coming season? What “clothing” do you need to cast off in order to abandon yourself to your projects?
A Blessed Beltane season to you! May your dreams feed you.
1. Flicker on the ground at LMH this morning when we pulled in. We got to watch it for a full two minutes before it flew away into the morning sunlight.
2. On our walk this evening, swallows swooping low to get a look at us. I think there were both barn and tree swallows.
3. The smell of gill-over-the-grass after someone has walked on it. Smells like spring.
4. The smell of cow patties drying in a field. It transports me back in time, and suddenly I’m five-year-old Bethie walking home from Gwen’s house in the slanting sun of a late Shirati afternoon, the lake breeze playing in my hair.
5. Speaking of poop, I love the open-throated bark of a laugh that Joss gives when he hears a good scatological joke. Total delight, especially when his dad makes the joke.
This is the season of owl,
of winds that howl through the hollow,
the season of the sharp bark
of the fox, voicing longing in the bosque.
This is the season of bitter,
of fierce flakes feathering cheeks and hands,
the season of crystal, crisp and cutting,
of beauty that will slice you open.
This is the season of rising,
thin and pale, into the dawn air,
but also of burrowing, huddling deep
into the layers that hold you.
Walk the thin line of today with care,
one foot precisely placed, the other. . .
Perhaps you will notice,
when you raise your eyes for a moment,
how the line curves out ahead of you,
Gratitude List: 1. Yesterday’s really lovely start to the new semester. Nobody, including myself, is very squirrelly yet (we’ll get there, I’m sure).
2. The energy of teaching a new class. Like being the newbie again. I’m a little terrified, but in a good and energizing way.
3. Clouds. Whole fantasy worlds and landscapes there above us. This is the time of year when the clouds are tinged with sunset as I drive home, and tinged again with sunrise on my way to work.
4. Snow. Just a dusting.
5. How a hot drink warms hands and face.
Poem-A-Day Prompt 19: Write a Wheel Poem. Sort of reminiscent of the Circle Poem way back on Day 7. But I like the roundness. . .
Me, I think the world begins on that inward turn of the wheel.
The poise and the pause, the moment of balance.
Autumnal Equinox. Prepare for the coming of night.
Then swing a notch toward the dark and fall
between the worlds. Part the veils and listen
for the words of the ancestors.
Turn the wheel again, into the dark and darker
and the mother is groaning in her labor pains,
the heart is listening like a young rabbit in the warren.
Seeds of crystals grow and glow.
And turn again, and into light, sharp and newborn,
emergent. What will you bring with you into the sun?
No wonder the whistle pig is the icon of the day,
fresh, transformed, and blinking in the snow-blind glare.
Another spin into the light, the time of the egg
and the bud, the time of the singing, the blooming.
The world washed clean and wind-shriven.
Back to the balance of Equinox.
Yank the wheel another notch and throw off
the kilter of spring. Enter the riot, the bustle.
Use the words fecund and fertile and wild.
The wheel turns and the sun stands like an ancient hero
on the vault of the sky. What fills your soul?
Where do your dreams go? Follow your fire.
After that zenith, the shape shades to dark once more,
but the loss is lost in the haze of the days.
The first wheat is harvested, baked into loaves.
What will you make of your harvest?
Follow the bark of the goose to the next turn,
and the world begins all over again,
folding itself into darkness.