Deep Sleep

I can’t draw the dreams back from last night’s wanderings. After several nights of twisting-turning, last night was a sleep-like-a-rock night, so I have no dream images to work with today. Even the cats were quiet last night. I must remember to praise them for that.

Today, I begin my walk from Time Out of Time. I MUST get some work done. I need to put aside some of the dreaminess so I can focus.

I realize that I am living with a fair amount of anxiety about January 6, and Inauguration Day. So much has been destroyed, even when it seemed like goodness and reason simply had to prevail, that I am not sure I want to believe that we’re actually on our way out of this mess.


Gratitudes:
1. Zoom calls with friends and family. The shining faces of beloveds. Telling memory-stories, updating, speaking hope.
2. That cardinal, a drop of scarlet in the grey of morning, how the greens are richer and more satisfying after rain.
3. Practicing something until you can feel, can SEE, the improvement. My first attempts at a woven visible mend were pretty poor and puckery, but by last evening, I was catching my stride, and my fingers were learning what to do.
4. Sharing dreams and omens with friends.
5. And now the morning is no longer grey. The sun has topped the eastern ridge and caught the leathery leaves of the little oak on the bluff out the window, and the world is a-sparkle.

May we do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly in Beauty!


There is a deeper world than this
That you don’t understand
There is a deeper world that this
Tugging at your hand
—Sting


“The Work. I am learning, slowly and in tiny little ways, to stop asking myself what I can get from each moment, but instead what my Work is here in the moment. And realizing, ever so dimly, that when I am really doing my Work (really doing my Work), I am also receiving what I need.” —Beth Weaver-Kreider


“The best way to predict the future is to create it.” —Peter Drucker


“There is nothing in a caterpillar that tells you it will be a butterfly.” —Margaret Fuller


“Brew me a cup for a winter’s night.
For the wind howls loud and the furies fight;
Spice it with love and stir it with care,
And I’ll toast our bright eyes,
my sweetheart fair.”
—Minna Thomas Antrim


“How do we go on living, when every day our hearts break anew? Whether your beloved are red-legged frogs, coho salmon, black terns, Sumatran tigers, or fat Guam partulas, or entire forests, mountains, rivers, lakes, or oceans, or the entire planet, the story is the same, the story of the murder of one’s beloved, the murder of one’s beloved, the murder of one’s beloved.” ―Derrick Jensen, Dreams

Deep Sleep and Fleeting Dreams

Last night’s sleep was deep and dreams were fleeting.

Gratitudes:
1. Deep sleep
2. Yesterday I saw a bald eagle, right here at the house
3. Baking
4. I’ll see my parents today, if fleetingly
5. All of you, candles and stars, lights twinkling in your own particular constellations, bringing the light.

May we walk in Beauty!


Christmas Eve Ponderings:
“Be happy for this moment. This moment is your life.”
—Omar Khayyám


“In our heart and soul we are each like Mary, holding the possibility for a birth that can change the world.” —Llewellyn Vaughan Lee, Quote from A Prayer at the Winter Solstice (2012)


Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible without surrender be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even the dull and ignorant; they too have their story.
Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter;
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.
Keep interested in your career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs; for the world is full of trickery.
but let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals;
and everywhere life is full of heroism.
Be yourself.
Especially, do not feign affection.
Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is as perennial as the grass.
Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune but do not distress yourself with imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness. Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself.
You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.
Therefore, be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be,
and whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.
With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be careful. Strive to be happy.
—Max Ehrmann 1927

Sleepy Saturday Morning

I did something this morning that I haven’t done for a very long time: I slept in until almost 9 a.m. I did move from the bed to the recliner at about 5:30, but then I slept straight through until 8:50. I feel a little sleep-dopey this morning, but also well-rested. I am going to spend some time outside this morning before kneading some dough and cracking down on myself to get some grading done. Blessings on your day! (I suppose this is my official gratitude for the day. Blessed sleep.)


“Wherever there is injustice, there is also resistance against it.” —Zehra Doğan, Turkish activist jailed for her artwork


“Trees are sanctuaries. Whoever knows how to speak to them, whoever knows how to listen to them, can learn the truth. of the ancient law of life.” —Hermann Hesse


“There is nothing to fear in the act of beginning. More often than not it knows the journey ahead better than we ever could. Perhaps the art of harvesting the secret riches of our lives is best achieved when we place profound trust in the act of beginning. Risk might be our greatest ally. To live a truly creative life, we always need to cast a critical look at where we presently are, attempting always to discern where we have become stagnant and where new beginning might be ripening. There can be no growth if we do not remain open and vulnerable to what is new and different. I have never seen anyone take a risk for growth that was not rewarded a thousand times over.” —John O’Donohue


“What is needed to bring about the new life you yearn for, but devotion to its course? The calling is in your blood, like a vow that was made for you. Everything it requires is within the provisions of your being. The far-seeing of your eye, the stretch of your capacity, the willingness of your heart’s sacrifice – exhaustion and despair notwithstanding. All it asks is for your vow to be made back, through every small contraction and expansion, renewed in a continuous tendering of devotion.” —Toko-pa Turner


“Words—so innocent and powerless as they are, as standing in a dictionary, how potent for good and evil they become in the hands of one who knows how to combine them.” ―Nathaniel Hawthorne


Julian of Norwich: “All will be well, and all will be well. All manner of things shall be well.”


“Life is not so much about beginnings and endings as it is about going on and on and on. It is about muddling through the middle.” ―Anna Quindlen


“The beginning is the word. And the end is silence. In between are all the stories.” ―Kate Atkinson


“Deciding we won’t drive to that chain grocery store and buy that imported pineapple is a path of liberation. Deciding to walk to the farmers’ market and buy those fresh local peas is like spitting the eye of the industries that would control us. Every act of refusal is also an act of assent. Every time we say no to consumer culture, we say yes to something more beautiful and sustaining. Life is not something we go through or that happens to us; it’s something we create by our decisions.” ―Kathleen Dean Moore, from “If Your House Is On Fire”


“What I want is so simple I almost can’t say it: elementary kindness.” —Barbara Kingsolver

Some Rooney Rants

I had a couple long conversations with Thor yesterday. I reminded him that my success rate for waking up in the morning has been 100%, so he doesn’t need to check whether I am still alive. I told him to wait until the alarm goes off. And here’s the thing: He did not wake me up last night.


Gratitude List:
1. The doves are getting all amorous out there in the weeds and the vines. Sure sign of spring.
2. During my lunch watch yesterday, at least three students came up and told me about book series that they love.
3. I correctly identified that Araucana hen in the FFA quiz in chapel yesterday, even if I missed the one about the cultipacker.
4. Friday. It’s Friday
5. How the kids in Speech class support each other. Some powerful stories were told.

May we walk in Beauty!


I’ve been really circumspect about not discussing the Democratic political candidates here. From the early days of 27+ candidates, I have been mostly sitting back to watch what happens. It feels to me like the more we citizens fight about our candidates, the more unruly the whole process becomes, the ore tarnished all the candidates become. When a nominee rises to the top, I don’t want them to be muddied and bruised by the Dem rivals. But this most recent candidate is causing me no little angst, and so here are a few thoughts, Andy Rooney-style:

  1. I have not been particularly vocal about my candidate choice in the primary, and I’m still keeping all the doors open, with the exception of one candidate. I think it’s best, in general, to avoid jumping into the negativity and back-biting tornado. Still, when you line them up on a debate stage, you can sing Sesame Street’s teaching song “One of these things is not like the others. . .” with a pretty clear view of the one that “just doesn’t belong.” If he wins the nomination, I don’t know how I will be able to vote.
  2. Speaking of Andy Rooney, I am getting so tired of grumpy old white men running things. Just tired. Tired. And I’m getting grumpy–like those old white men.
  3. I can get behind a woman who can speak the truth about the Old Boys’ Club right to their faces. Call them out. Stand up to them. Call the bluff on their obfuscations. Such a woman empowers other women. I feel intense gratitude for people who don’t let the boors hide their bad behavior under a veneer of Good Old Boy bluster.
  4. Stridently calling out bad behavior is not the same thing as being mean. Sometimes you have to be strident to be heard above the bluster and the big money.
  5. I laughed out loud at the Elle article by R. Eric Thomas. Google it–you know how.
  6. Can someone tell Bernie that pointing at people comes across and hostile, and emphasizes all the negatives of the grumpy old white man persona?
  7. Some of you are older white men. I have no quibble with you, per se. I just want to try something different in the White House for a while.

Letter to My Cat

Dear Sweet Thor,
I know I said that I love the sound of your happy chirpy morning purr, and I do. Thing is, “morning” is the operative word in that sentence. It resonates a little differently at 3:30.

I love the way you pat my face so sweetly with your paw, but again, what is sweet at 5:30 only startles and annoys me at 4:00. The same is true of whiskers in my face, of walking up and down my body with your needle-fingers, of licking my hands. Please know that, no matter how much you lick my hands, I will not be petting you before the alarm goes off.

So far in my life, I have a 100% record of waking up in the morning–not always on time, I grant you, but usually–so you do not need to check on me every fifteen minutes from 3:30 onward to make sure whether I am still alive. Further, rolling over, stretching out my legs, yawning–these are not signals of my imminent awakening. They usually help me get back to sleep, unless, of course, someone is trying to wake me up.

One more thing, small dude: While I work hard at being culturally competent, I am never going to sniff your butt. You can stop offering. Especially in the night when I am trying to sleep.

See you in the morning, Sweetie.


Gratitude List:
1. Boy has been writing poems. “Who assigned you that prompt?” I ask.
“Oh, I just decided to write a poem for fun.”
Heart is melting.
2. Stretching and breathing. In-spir-ation.
3. Last night, I looked back through my New Orleans 2003 journal. I need to get back into doing watercolor sketches.
4. Carving spaces for myownself
5. All the little signs of spring.

May we walk in Beauty!

You are Beloved

When they are babies or small children, each child at my church is held and blessed by one of our pastors, and told: “You are known and loved by God.” Whatever your word for that great and unknowable–but personal and tender–Mystery, know this today and always: The One who is the Source and Cause of all being, all Beauty, all Knowing, all Making, loves you. Knows you. As intimately as a painter who cherishes the tiny green dot of color in a painting, which she knows is there, which she placed there with purpose. You are deeply and singularly beloved.

Gratitude List:
1. Contemplating Longing and Belonging, and the Web upon which we all live and move.
2. Deep sleep. Somehow, at this point of middle age, sleep has become a regular visitor to this list–perhaps because it’s not so regular in real life
3. How dreams teach me about myself
4. Artistic processes–whether it be collage or poetry or doodles, or simply seeing and listening
5. All my Beloveds. You’re in my heart, on my web. I cast a line from me to you today. Take hold.

May we walk in Beauty!

Beets are Deadly Serious

This is a photo of a poster in the dining room at the National Conference Center. I love Jitterbug Perfume. I need to try to figure out how to use this as a basis for a Creative Writing exercise in descriptive and fanciful writing. It’s so imaginative, it goes way out beyond extended metaphor. Part of it is the wild riff on beets themselves, and part of it is the repeated comparison to the characteristics of other vegetables.

And that last line. Suddenly beet people are desperate, perhaps visionary, perhaps utterly mad.

Try it. Choose a random thing, a thing among things, something you can compare to other items in a similar category: paper clips, Legos, dogwood tree. Describe it, in terms of itself, but also in terms of the other things in its category. Who exemplifies the characteristics of your item? Remember that you really aren’t describing an item at all, but a person.


Gratitude List:
1. Kitty snuggles. (Except at 3 in the morning. No, even that is sweet, if disruptive. Thor seems to have some anxiety issues related to Mama going away. He kept waking me up. He wanted to perch on top of me–shoulder, hip–but seemed to need to hold on with his claws. Sigh. Still, midnight purrs and kitty kisses are precious.)
2. Being home. Being away, and then being home again.
3. Making plans, making progress toward goals.
4. Morning sun.
5. The moon, the moon, the moon.

May we walk in Beauty!

Aconite Awakens

Trying to make sense of a dream last night. Buying an old three story house in the city, taller than all the surrounding houses, dozens of rooms. The owners left so much stuff behind, and there was so much to discover: clothes, games, Civil War memorabilia, books, kitchen items. They even left two cats. I think this is a dream of abundance, of sudden knowledge that I have more inner resources than I realized. Now, I need time to meditate in waking life to make the connections.


Gratitude List:
1. The aconite is up, golden buttercups catching the slanting sun rays of a winter afternoon.
2. Walking with Josiah after school. He instigates a walk almost as often as I do.
3. Maybe it’s the season for sundogs? We saw a really sparkly spot of one on the way home again yesterday.
4. I went to bed early last night, and slept all night until morning. Good, solid rest. May my brain be less foggy today than yesterday.
5. My students. All of them, and two in particular, who chose during their Speech class interviews to be interviewed about what it’s like to grow up black or bi-racial in the the US. It’s not their job to teach the rest of us, but they chose to open up their stories, and we learned. Deeply. Most of the best learning moments are not orchestrated by the teacher.

May we walk in Beauty!

Eyes Full of Language

“Grab the broom of anger and drive off the beast of fear.” —Zora Neale


“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


“For last year’s words belong to last year’s language
And next year’s words await another voice.” ―T.S. Eliot, Four Quartets


“Words are pale shadows of forgotten names. As names have power, words have power. Words can light fires in the minds of [people]. Words can wring tears from the hardest hearts.”
―Patrick Rothfuss, The Name of the Wind


“silence is the language of god,
all else is poor translation.”
―Jalaluddin Mevlana Rumi


“Meow” means “woof” in cat.” ―George Carlin


“But if thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought.” ―George Orwell, 1984


“Human speech is like a cracked kettle on which we tap crude rhythms for bears to dance to, while we long to make music that will melt the stars.” ―Gustave Flaubert, Madame Bovary


“The limits of my language means the limits of my world.” ―Ludwig Wittgenstein


“I like you; your eyes are full of language.”
[Letter to Anne Clarke, July 3, 1964.]”
―Anne Sexton


Gratitudes:
1. Baked oatmeal
2. I did get back to sleep. There was that moment in the night when I ache and wakefulness make me almost leap from the bed. But the recliner soothed me back to sleep
3. Lunch duty. I would have said that the last job I wanted was to be the Watcher in the Gathering Area at lunch. I maybe be an ambivert, but the introverted part of me is made extremely anxious by noise and crowds. It helps to have a task and a plan, and then students have a way of approaching me to make conversation, or standing nearby in circles talking larger than life and glancing my way to see if I am noticing their delightful performances. I get to note who is lonely, who is going out of her way to greet someone who is on the fringe, who is gathering others together.
4. This cat pacing behind me like a sentry. (Oops! It’s because the food bowl is empty–I’ll have to remedy that.)
5. Stories.

May we walk in Beauty!

Advent 18: Torpor and Dreams

Such a strange and wakeful night it was. The borders between sleep and unsleep were oddly porous. Toward the end there, I did fall into deeper grooves of dream and sleep. I don’t feel particularly unrested, so there’s that. Perhaps it’s the load of work still to get done this week, or the doings in the House today, or the season, or the excitement of going to play practice again after twenty-five years. Or maybe it was simply cats and digestion.

This season, I have been reading Gayle Boss’ All Creation Waits again, learning about the various states of torpor and hibernation and quiet of various animals throughout a northern winter. I, too, feel torpor taking me, but it’s not always about deep sleep for me. Sometimes, it feels more like a simple need to rest quietly and profoundly, while the stories play out in my brain.

Winter is, for me, the Dreaming Time. I do head more readily toward sleep, if I don’t always actually make it to the deepest waters. After Solstice and Christmas, in the hush of nights when the planet seems to pause in its dance, as she begins the whirl back to exquisite balance, I listen more closely to my dreams, watching for symbols and images and words that I might mine for use in the coming year. Already, my night-brain seems to be readying me for the work of conscious dreaming.

Now comes the work of remembering and sorting the images that come in those half wakeful moments between the dreaming and sleeping and waking. May your dreams bring you wisdom.


Gratitude List:
1. The startling talents of my students.
2. The wisdom of dreams and darkness
3. Break is coming
4. Only 3 days until Sunreturn
5. Little spaces in the coming day in which to breathe

May we walk in Beauty!