Twelvenight: Bag of Dreams

I have absolutely no recollection of dreaming last night. The door between sleeping brain and waking brain is shut tightly. No narratives or images come from that world into this today.

This morning when I looked out the window at 5:35, the darkness was touched by a hint of grey. Dawn is slipping slowly and silently back the clock. Light returns.

The quotation in the image I attached above is from William Butler Yeats’ poem, “Fergus and the Druid.” Fergus the King has relinquished his crown and abdicated his responsibilities as king, and he asks the Druid to teach him knowledge, to give him wisdom. Finally, after a little bit of back-and-forth, the Druid offers Fergus a bag of dreams. Though I put the words with the Fool, the Druid is much more earnest than the Fool, more shamanic, seeking wisdom in all things, pursuing knowledge. The Fool just trusts that the wisdom necessary for the moment will arrive when it comes. The Fool is both younger and older than the Druid, more foolish, and wiser.

Going back to school yesterday meant a different kind of mental focus, put me in more of a Druid zone, seeking knowledge with deep intention. But of course Teacher is an archetype of its own, the one who passes on knowledge and wisdom, seeking it like the Druid, drawing it out of the people themselves, helping them to find it. Druid, Teacher, Queen/King/Ruler, Fool: We are so many people at once, aren’t we?

On a morning when the dream-door is closed, still I carry with me the bag of dreams I have been dreaming. Today, they wrap me round as I go out again, stepping out as the Fool, the Druid, the Teacher, carrying my little bag–of dreams, of wisdom, of story. May your own dreams feed you and wrap you round.

Gratitude List:
1. Pie. Yesterday was pie day in the faculty lounge. One of my colleagues is a masterful pie-maker. Once a year, he brings eight or ten pies for us to sample. It’s the best snack day of the year, and it made yesterday a celebration instead of a foggy slog.
2. My shiny students. Many of them were as tired as I was. So many of them just want to be done with the semester already. Me, too. But there’s joy and hope and community there, too, and for some students, school is the safe place, the belonging place. I am grateful that school can be that haven for those who need it.
3. Yesterday’s chapel speaker. It was mostly a personal introduction for a member of our school community, but he was engaging and lively. He caught students’ attention on the first day back from break. He made us laugh, he made us think.
4. Resolutions and intentions. I know all the reasons to be cynical about New Year’s Resolutions, but here’s the thing. New Year’s Day can be like the moon, and I can use the gravity of this day to help boost my energy as I create an intention. I have been wanting to maintain a higher daily step-count, but I sometimes I need the extra artificial push of a New Year’s Resolution or an outside challenge to motivate me. Here’s to the attempt!
5. Dawn is inching back the clock. Day is slowly lengthening.

May we walk in Beauty!

Not What it Seems

Today’s prompt is to write a things-not-as-they-appear poem.  I keep going back to the Shaman Poem from March 1:

Here is how we make the world:
I will say fire and mean wisdom.
I will say wisteria and mean my thoughts are tangled.
I will say the river is flowing and mean that time is passing.
I will say grandmother’s quilt and mean that the work is love.

I will say house and mean your heart.
I will say spiderweb and mean the prayers are holding you.
I will say the eagle flies and mean my thoughts are with you.
I will say the daffodils are blooming and mean you are healing.

I will say song and mean dream.
I will say dream and mean prayer.
I will say prayer and mean poem.


Gratitude List:
1. My neighbor’s bank of nodding sunny daffodils.  (Say Man-who-Plants-Sunshine, and no longer mean Crusty Curmudgeon.  That one is going to take some work.)
2. Freckles on a small boy’s face.
3. A day to organize and tidy the classroom.
4. Playing outside!
5. All the poems of April.  I decided I did not have time curate a Poetree this year.  Still, the Internet is a grand Tree of Poetry.  I am loving reading everyone’s poems.

May we walk in Beauty!

Say Dream and Mean Poem

2014 March 016

To celebrate the dawning of March, here is a photo from last March.  I don’t think the aconite are up just yet, but I will check this morning on the way out to the car.

Two nights ago, I dreamed that Lady Gaga and her beau were touring the school one afternoon and stopped by my room.  The Lady was enthralled by the look of the room, and told me that it must mean I was an excellent teacher.  Look at me, fishing for compliments even in my dreams.  I know where this one came from, of course.  I had been pondering, as I fell asleep, how fascinating it is that all these sober and earnest Lancaster County Mennonites (I include myself in those descriptors) are suddenly three degrees of separation away from Lady Gaga: We know people who taught Taylor Kinney, who is soon to be Mr. Gaga.  Does that make him Lord Gaga, perhaps?

This morning, I woke up in the middle of an etymological dream about the root jour, which my sleeping brain reminded me means day.  I know that journal means the record of the day, so journey, I woke up thinking, must mean the day’s travel.  Sojourn–how does that differ from journey?  I looked it up a moment ago.  The first part of  sojourn comes from sub-, which means “less than,” so sojourn originally intended to indicate a short stay, whereas journey was about the travel from place to place.  I am so glad that my dreaming mind had me clear up all that information.  Perhaps I need to plan a journey, a sojourn.

This morning’s writing exercise is the Language Event I wrote about yesterday.  I am going to try to do it as a free-write–as fast as I can–and see whether any treasures fall out of my foggy brain.

Say journey and mean day
Say blue and mean that you were out in the morning
Say wildness and mean longing
Say twilight and mean the way your soul whispers
Say birdsong and mean message
Say warning and mean that you need to move on
Say season and mean that you have become someone new
Say winter and mean that an old thing is passing
Say springtime and mean that the morning is dawning
Say morning sun and mean that you open your eyes
Say green and mean that you are nourished and fed
Say golden and mean that butterflies are returning

This has some possibility.  I feel like I might want to keep a notebook and write ten of them a day, and then compile a Shaman’s Lexicon Poem, perhaps.  If you want to do it, too, feel free.  Perhaps our poems will meet some day in the ethers of the internet.  I think I will add it to my list of poetry-writing exercises for the ninth-grade poetry unit.

Gratitude List:
1. Grandma Weaver’s afghan and old plum-colored recliner.  Nothing says comfort to me quite like sitting here like this.  Come to think of it, the white and blue quilt that is folded over the back of the chair right now was made by Grandma Slabaugh.  (Say grandmother’s blanket and mean enwrapped by love.)
2. A clean house.  (Say clean house and mean quiet mind.)
3. This sea-foam-colored scarf.  (Say aquamarine and mean contemplation.)
4. Playing violin with Ellis on the cello yesterday afternoon with the winter sun sparkling through the windows. (Say music and mean my heart is dancing.)
5. The shenanigans of a silly five-year-old. (Say shenanigans and mean shenanigans.)

May we walk in Beauty!


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.