The [redacted] Secret

By the time I got to the end of the second sentence, and saw the words “friend” and “Nazi” in successive lines, it suddenly became impossible for me to search out any other phrase than “Nazi friend” to end the poem, but the order was transposed. Sometimes people use arrows to make such a puzzle work. I decided to get out my little knife.

I woke up this morning with this phrase in my head: “Hymns to The Unknown Civilization.” I might have to create some sort of poetry/art project with that title.

You know that feeling when you wake up, and the cobweb of a dream is still clinging to your consciousness? I always try to maintain that dreamlike consciousness while I stumble downstairs so it stays fresh enough to write down. The dream flotsam offers myriad gifts. Sometimes it’s a stark image floating in my mind’s eye, asking me to look and consider and contemplate. I especially love when it’s word or a song. Sometimes the phrase is so surreal that I can’t weave it into the meaning of daytime reality and I just enjoy its oddness, its quirky presence in my day. Other times, I feel like there are distinct and specific messages in the words and images and stories that appear at the ends of dreamtime.


Gratitude:
The sounds of my walk yesterday: Greetings with friendly neighbors, the horses making that blustery horsey sigh, Barb’s goats calling greetings from up the hillside, bird twitterings in the trees, the deep glugging of the bullfrogs in the pond. Earlier, as I was riding my bike on the rail trail, I heard the wood thrushes calling across the path to each other.

May we walk in Beauty!


“If only we arrange our life in accordance with the principle which tells us that we must always trust in the difficult, then what now appears to us as the most alien will become our most intimate and trusted experience. How could we forget those ancient myths that stand at the beginning of all races, the myths about dragons that at the last moment are transformed into princesses? Perhaps all the dragons in our lives are princesses who are only waiting to see us act, just once, with beauty and courage. Perhaps everything that frightens us is, in its deepest essence, something helpless that wants our love.” —Rainer Maria Rilke


“A woman must be willing to burn hot, burn with passion, burn with words, with ideas, with desire for whatever it is that she truly loves.” —Clarissa Pinkola Estes


“Water is life’s matter and matrix, mother and medium. There is no life without water.”
—Albert Szent-Gyorgyi


“I can’t offer justice so I offer just trees.” —Kilian Schoenberger (who photographs trees and woods)


Dalai Lama: “There are only two days of the year in which nothing can be done. One is called yesterday and the other is called tomorrow. That means today is the ideal day to love, to believe, to create and to live.”


“We cannot assume the sacredness nor spiritual livingness of the earth or accept it as a new ideology or as a sentimentally pleasing idea. We must experience that life and sacredness, if it is there, in relationship to our own and to that ultimate mystery we call God. We must experience it in our lives, in our practice, in the flesh of our cultural creativity. We must allow it to shape us, as great spiritual ideas have always shaped those who entertain them, and not expect that we can simply use the image of Gaia to meet emotional, religious, political, or even commercial needs without allowing it to transform us in unexpected and radical ways. The spirituality of the earth is more than a slogan. It is an invitation to initiation, to the death of what we have been and the birth of something new.” —David Spangler


Rob Brezsny reflects on Fuller and Socrates:
“You never change things by fighting the existing reality,” wrote Buckminster Fuller. “To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.”

Socrates said something similar: “The secret of change is to focus your energy not on fighting the old, but on building the new.”

Are they right? Or should we instead focus on unleashing our apocalyptic rage at the corruption and decay of the dying order?

A Very Simple Secret


Today’s prompt is to write a self-destruct poem:

When you are finished reading this poem,
it will self-destruct. The words
will fly outward, shards of ideas
exploding, lacerating skin,
feelings and notions piercing the soul,
shredding elevated egos
and mangling worn-out theories.
You will not be able to escape
into the house of another poem,
for all poetry is designed to explode,
to burst, to shatter into a thousand colors,
like the fracturing of light.


“The word is the making of the world.” —Wallace Stevens
*
“Through the empty branches the sky remains.
It is what you have.”
—Rainer Maria Rilke
*
“Our task must be to free ourselves by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature and its beauty.” —Albert Einstein
*
“I must remind you that starving a child is violence. Suppressing a culture is violence. Neglecting school children is violence. Punishing a mother and her family is violence. Discrimination against a working man is violence. Ghetto housing is violence. Ignoring medical need is violence. Contempt for poverty is violence.” —Coretta Scott King
*
“When you feel the suffering of every living thing in your own heart, that is consciousness.”
—Bhagavad Gita
*
“And now here is my secret, a very simple secret: It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.”
―Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince
*
“The most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or touched, they are felt with the heart.”
―Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince
*
“Just that,” said the fox. “To me, you are still nothing more than a little boy who is just like a hundred thousand other little boys. And I have no need of you. And you, on your part, have no need of me. To you I am nothing more than a fox like a hundred thousand other foxes. But if you tame me, then we shall need each other. To me, you will be unique in all the world. To you, I shall be unique in all the world….”
―Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince
*
“It is such a mysterious place, the land of tears.”
―Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince
*
“And when your sorrow is comforted (time soothes all sorrows) you will be content that you have known me. You will always be my friend. You will want to laugh with me. And you will sometimes open your window, so, for that pleasure . . . And your friends will be properly astonished to see you laughing as you look up at the sky! Then you will say to them, ‘Yes, the stars always make me laugh!’ And they will think you are crazy. It will be a very shabby trick that I shall have played on you…”
―Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince
*
“Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,
you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.
You must wake up with sorrow.
You must speak to it till your voice
catches the thread of all sorrows
and you see the size of the cloth.”
―Naomi Shihab Nye


Gratitude List:
1. How dreams keep revealing themselves
2. How the leaves fly down from the sky
3. How children see things that adults miss
4. How the work gets done
5. How starlings move as a single bird

May we walk in Beauty!

The Practice of Peace

“Now I see the secret of the making of the best persons,
It is to grow in the open air and to eat and sleep with the earth.”
–Walt Whitman
*
“To live a life of peace, we must practice peace with all we meet, indeed, with the whole world. To practice this publicly, we consciously reject the chaos around us and steadfastly choose peace. Once we make that choice, a whole new journey begins.” –John Dear
*
“Be the reason someone believes in the goodness of people.” –many author attributions
*
“Camerado, I give you my hand!
I give you my love more precious than money,
I give you myself before preaching or law;
Will you give me yourself? will you come travel with me?
Shall we stick by each other as long as we live?” –Walt Whitman
*
“The universe may be a mystery, but it’s not a secret.” –Michael Schneider
*
“Human rights are not things that are put on the table for people to enjoy. These are things that you fight for and then you protect.” –Wangari Maathai
*
“I like stories where women save themselves.” — Neil Gaiman
*
“Why are there men and women that while they are nigh me the sunlight expands my blood?
Why when they leave me do my pennants of joy sink flat and lank?
Why are there trees I never walk under but large and melodious thoughts descend upon me?
(I think they hang there winter and summer on those trees and always drop fruit as I pass;)”
–Walt Whitman


Gratitude List:
1. Last night’s indigo clouds on a twilight background: A dragon flying to meet a witch, who held the crescent moon glowing in the palm of her hand.
2. Step by step the longest march can be won.
3. Red–an enlivening, heart-opening color
4. Knitting. I like to knit during conversations and public events, and I feel as though I am knitting the stories of the moments into the thing I am making. This winter, I will wear a warm hat that will contain yesterday’s stories from wise and resilient women, and the blessing of the babies, and the hard work of this season of my life, and an orange tree, and Dorothy Day, and two students who I am praying for in particular in these days. That’s going to be one heavy hat.
5. Laughter

May we walk in Beauty!

Today’s prompt is to write about secrets:

Sing me that song,
the one you wrote
about the woman who
hid from her life
like a lynx in the wood.

Inscrutable.

She guarded her secrets
and melted into her shame,
hiding the flame in her heart,
holding the mystery of her name,
revealing herself to no one.

Remember the ending,
the way that she bent herself
outward one day,
opened her throat like a bird’s
and spoke a single clear note
into the morning,
how she blazed forth,
how she stretched outward,
how she dawned.

 

Gratitude List:
1. Daffodils!  When I got to school this morning, the first little ones were just opening their cups.  This afternoon I got home and the ones out front of our house were open, too.
2. Ideas–how they build and grow, build and grow
3. Chai
4. Color and texture, rhythm and pattern
5. You

May we walk in Beauty!

Epiphany

My holiday season is Twelvenight, the time that stretches from Christmas to Epiphany, a quiet and contemplative time, time out of time, intended for the gleaning of images and words that might help me focus the unfolding of my story in the coming year.  I extend the season a little, beginning at Solstice.  Through the long nights and the waiting for light to begin to return, I watch and listen for images and words that compel me in some particular way.

Two years ago, I found myself suddenly obsessing over the word palimpsest, a strange and new word that carried the sense of layers and shadings of meaning, of old stories suddenly appearing in the middle of new stories to inform the current living.

Last year, bridge was my word–an image that appeared repeatedly to me in conversations and dreams, and a concept that became incredibly powerful to me in the meaning-making of my own life when I found myself suddenly making a major life transition, from farm and child care back to teaching.

My grab bag of images and ideas this year is full and cluttered.  Fred the cat has been in one of his agitated cycles during the past couple of weeks, frequently waking us up in the middle of the night, which leaves my head whirling with fog-skuthers of dream-images, compelling pictures that slip into my thinking space throughout the day.  I woke up one morning thinking about a student at our school, wondering if she would be in my class next semester, with an almost wild sense of protectiveness for her.  Vulture, lynx, and leopard have appeared in my dreams.  Plantain and pigweed.  Storytellers, fools, and shamans (somehow associated with the image of those magical folk from the east who decided to follow the sign of a star).  There was even a nightmare about watching a plane crash that woke me up with a pounding heart and tight breathing.  The dreams have been full and fantastical.

Out of it all, I have settled on two words that have floated to the surface of the pond of my unconscious: secrets and impeccability. I don’t really like the word secrets (I have seen unhealthy secrets destroy relationships too often), and I keep trying to change it to mysteries, but something in me thinks that the distinction may be important to explore during the coming season, particularly in the context of the word impeccability.  Perhaps it’s a step in gaining wisdom and maturity, that ability to keep one’s own council and trusting to the strength of one’s own character.  I know I have much to learn on both fronts.

Where Do I Draw the Line?

I had intended to make this playful and fun, but a heaviness overtook me as I began to reflect.  Perhaps I’ll try the silly side of this another day.

That lying line,
that lion,
that roars and rumbles rudely.

Color inside it or outside,
where shall we draw it?

When does the sweet secret
turn sourly to self-deception,
the slow slide of truth
across that watery line to lie?

This, says the heart, is mine,
this private line,
this inner realm I rule.
It is my right.

Indeed.  And yet,
integrity bleeds outward
from secret worlds,
the safest closets
and deep-down caves.

When does my secret cease
to protect us in its quiet case?
When does it enter that twisted space,
the reflection that belies reality?

Oh, give the heart its privacy
within indigo shadows,
but don’t mistake reflection
for the truth.

 

Prompt

Tomorrow’s poem, courtesy of my friend Brad Lehman, is to write a poem of phone prompts.  (I think he originally suggested that I translate them into or out of Spanish.  Um.  No.)  Something about the experience (frustration?) of finding your way through phone recordings.  Join me?  Press one for the poem of the day.  Beep.

 

Gratitude List:

1.  Getting the white shower curtain white again
2.  Cantaloupe smoothies
3.  Folk tales
4.  Hands to hold in the darkness
5.  Beeswax crayons

May we walk in beauty.

2013 January 005