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!

The Wildest One Calls

There are windows everywhere, if you choose to see them.

Gratitude List:
1. That within us which is wild and untameable. The Wildness that calls to be experienced and known. This is why one of my names for the Holy One is the Wildest One.
2. Autumn walks. Leaves falling all around. Red berries. The scuttlings of small animals and birds in the brush.
3. Circles of protection and care.
4. Haiku and Tanka and terse, short-form poetry.
5. A good night’s sleep.

May we walk in Wildness!

Morning

It’s another April. This year, grades were due at 8 a.m. on April first, so I didn’t even consider Poem-a-Day until after I’d muddled my way through the day, taken a nap, and eaten supper. But here I am. It’s a strange compulsion, this drive to write a daily poem, knowing that the next four weeks will have their own share of other stresses, that there will come a day, mid-month, when I will hate the way poetry is holding the whip above my head, when I will write a grocery list and call it a poem, just to get through the day. But now, on the first day of the month, everything seems bright and shiny, and I feel up for anything.

Brewer’s prompt today is to write a morning poem. I worked up a photo of this morning’s magenta cloud in a blue sky to go with it.

Finishing the Grades

The battle cry of yesterday’s ghost
startled me into morning
at precisely 4:38 according to the clock,
and as I couldn’t wrestle the monster
back into oblivion, I strapped on the day
like a rusty sword and went downstairs
in the chilly dark, to coffee and a blue screen,
to the silent dread of numbers on a page,
and the certainty of this day’s wave of work
receding, while the pull of the next wave
began its undertow toward the rising sun.

In the Dreamtime, Day 12

Last night before I went to sleep, I read an article about hypnogogia, that half-dream state between sleeping and waking where the mind is churning through images that feel portentous and wildly creative. It was a helpful reminder to me about dreamwork, about how to catch those elusive butterflies of dream and story that flitter away in the moment of waking. It makes me grateful that my body wakes me before the alarm, because I have those seconds to try to hold the moments of dream before the sudden noise of the alarm startles them away.

1) In the dream, I am in a grand-looking inn, but we are quickly noticing how poorly the place is built, more like a cheap television set than a truly beautiful space. The opulence is false.

2) In the dream, we are on the second floor of a building, dancing and pounding our feet, enjoying the sound of the echoes. We suddenly remember that there is someone living below us.

3) In the dream, I am standing under an umbrella on a bridge in the dawn, misty rain falling around me. There is a word in my head: trophism. I had to look that one up upon waking. Google says: “the turning of all or part of an organism in a particular direction in response to an external stimulus.” (Ah. I am turning my face to the light, like Kris’s poinsettias in church on Sunday.)


Gratitude List:
1. Words that come in dreams. In this case, “trophism,” like what I do when I turn toward the light.
2. Dream-bridges
3. Making a plan to catch up, and implementing in. Slow and steady, little tortoise.
4. Slow starts. “I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow,” said the poet, and it applies to oh-so-many forms of waking.
5. I think, perhaps, I can begin, just a little, to notice the increasing day.

May we wake to Beauty!


“Jesus was not brought down by atheism and anarchy. He was brought down by law and order allied with religion, which is always a deadly mix. Beware those who claim to know the mind of God and are prepared to use force, if necessary, to make others conform. Beware those who cannot tell God’s will from their own. Temple police are always a bad sign. When chaplains start wearing guns and hanging out at the sheriff’s office, watch out. Someone is about to have no king but Caesar.” —Barbara Brown Taylor


“He said the wicked know that if the evil they do is of sufficient horror men will not speak against it. That men have only stomach for small evils and only these will they oppose.”
—Cormac McCarthy, The Crossing.


“Before you tell your life what you intend to do with it, listen for what it intends to do with you. Before you tell your life what truths and values you have decided to live up to, let your life tell you what truths you embody, what values you represent.”
―Parker J. Palmer


“We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.”
―T. S. Eliot


We need for the earth to sing
Through our pores and our eyes.

The body will again become restless
Until your soul paints all its beauty
Upon the sky.
—Hafiz


“Perhaps the uprising of women around the world is the earth’s own immune system kicking in.”
—Nina Simons, Bioneers


A poem for the New Year:
Love Your Life

And a voice will come from the stillness
to give these words: Love Your Life.
You will know from its deep urging
to let go your well-worn list
of all you felt you first needed.
Begin here, freely,
from this muddy place.
It doesn’t matter if you are broken,
empty handed, shabby.
Go now, into the day:
the open trails, the markets,
the long trail to the sea.
Find all the ways
a lover loves the Beloved:
each hidden bloom, unspoken wound,
vagary of heart.
Become a brave and willing traveler
in a wild, forgotten terrain~
a realm of intimate, tender relating,
infinite mystery, un-tethered joy.
Now, moving in this world, you know
that love is the greatest fortune.
Only you will not amass it:
you are it.

—Ingrid Goff-Maidoff, Befriending The Soul


“The trouble with having an open mind, of course, is that people will insist on coming along and trying to put things in it.”
—Terry Pratchett