Gratitudes, Musings, Poems

Beating Inside Us

Monday’s Quotations:

“my god
is not waiting inside a church
or sitting above the temple’s steps
my god
is the refugee’s breath as she’s running
is living in the starving child’s belly
is the heartbeat of the protest
my god
does not rest between pages
written by holy men
my god
lives between the sweaty thighs
of women’s bodies sold for money
was last seen washing the homeless man’s feet
my god
is not as unreachable as
they’d like you to think
my god is beating inside us infinitely”
―Rupi Kaur
***
There are Mornings
even now, when the plot
calls for me to turn to stone,
the sun intervenes. Some mornings
in summer, I step outside
and the sky opens
and pours itself into me
as if I were a saint
about to die. But the plot
calls for me to live, be ordinary,
say nothing to anyone.
Inside the house,
the mirrors burn when I pass.
―Lisel Mueller
***
“Keep strenuously toiling along this path,
do not rest until the last breath;
for that last breath may yet bring the blessings
from the Knower of all things.”
~Rumi
***
“A church that does not provoke any crisis, preach a gospel that does not unsettle, proclaim a word of God that does not get under anyone’s skin or a word of God that does not touch the real sin of the society in which it is being proclaimed: what kind of gospel is that?” ―Oscar A. Romero
***
“Nature loves courage. You make the commitment and nature will respond to that commitment by removing impossible obstacles. Dream the impossible dream and the world will not grind you under, it will lift you up. This is the trick. This is what all these teachers and philosophers who really counted, who really touched the alchemical gold, this is what they understood. This is the shamanic dance in the waterfall. This is how magic is done. By hurling yourself into the abyss and discovering its a feather bed.” ―Terence McKenna
***
“Nature is alive and talking to us. This is not a metaphor.” ―Terence McKenna
***
“And did you get what
you wanted from this life, even so?
I did.
And what did you want?
To call myself beloved, to feel myself
beloved on the earth.”
—Raymond Carver
***
“Her imagination was by habit ridiculously active; when the door was not open, it jumped out the window.” ―Henry James
***
Orientation
by Maya Stein

Just east of certainty. A little south of courage. A hair’s
width from ease. Clicks away from ready. A turn
or two from acceptance. A shuffle from faith. A set of stairs
from achievement. A riverbed from happiness. A handspan from
peace. A wink away from freedom. A few lines until the poem’s
done. A highway, a night’s sleep, a phone call, a touch, a rotation
of gears away from that certain yes that tells you where you are is
exactly where you need to be. I know, the signs can look as if they’re missing,
and the map so distant and unclear.
But I’m telling you, you aren’t lost. You’re never lost. You’re always here.


Gratitude List:
1. Last night as we got out of the car after a day away, we heard a funny squealing sound in the sycamore tree, then another in the dogwood. Finally, clear and perfect, a screech owl’s whinny from the walnut in DiAngelos’ yard. I am almost positive that some babies were talking to their mama. I’m fond of the screech owl wingfolk.
2. The perfect trio of flowers are blooming on the roadsides again. every year I look for them: day lily, Queen Anne’s Lace, and chicory. Probably none of them are natives–sigh–but then again, neither am I, really.
3. These young people. Coffee this morning with an incredibly thoughtful and wise young man who used to be a student of mine, who is as articulate about the nature of the universe and science and spirituality as anyone I’ve heard. And after supper tonight with friends at the Taj Mahal, a chance meeting with one of my Waldorfans from so many years ago–bright and shining soul she is.
4. Women in Black. Meeting with some of the WiB I haven’t seen in a long time.
5. A cool place on a hot night. We’re all sleeping in the living room tonight so we can be near the air conditioner.

May we walk in Beauty!

Musings

Messengers


I’m setting up the FB page for Skunk Holler Poetryworks. I think I need to get out the better camera and a tripod to try to make it crisper.

Some days, some weeks, the visitations come so clustered and thickly that I simply can’t ignore the fact that Someone has something I need to hear. Hummingbird is a regular. Snake was a startlement. Vultures are pretty common, like hummer, except. . .

A couple days ago, I wanted to return to my meditations at the beginning of the year, to revisit the idea of matter, enmattering. I read through my blog posts from early January, and jogged my memory about the dreams I had been having. Among them, a startling dream about an encounter with the child-spirit Ellegua of Afro-Caribbean spiritual traditions.

While I want to be careful about not assimilating and taming and taking over the religions of other people groups (as white people are wont to do), I have been fascinated by the spirit world of Afro-Caribbean traditions and have studied them somewhat extensively, so it’s perhaps not surprising that Ellegua appeared to me in a dream. There were vultures (six, I think) in a field, and Ellegua took my hand and pulled me toward them. I didn’t want to touch them because I thought their feathers would be matted with dried blood and offal. Instead, they were soft as down, and the vultures bobbed their heads at us.

So the day after I renewed my memory of the vulture dream, Ellis and I encountered a pair of black vultures, one flying low over the road in front of us, and the other alighting on a telephone pole and looking down at us curiously as we passed slowly beneath it. That was yesterday. Today, on the way to school, we slowed down beside a field to watch four turkey vultures in a field. They eyed us closely as they hopped over the stubble, and for the first time in my years of watching them, I noticed the pronounced black and white “spectacle” marking in front of the eyes.

I was marveling at the triad of vulture visitations (noting that there were six vultures in real life now, like there had been in the dream) when I had to slow down again for a small creature running across the road ahead of me. Long, low, thin, and blondish, I thought, “Weasel!” and that’s what it was! I’ve never seen one in the wild. Otters. A mink. But this was my first weasel. Vultures and weasel.

This afternoon, as I was helping out with group activities for ninth graders outside the school, a ruckus of feathered folk burst out of a tree nearby: a really large crow followed by three smaller birds, flickering orange like little flames in the sun. Orioles! Three males chasing a crow. Perhaps it was after their little ones. But it felt like a message to me. Three flames. One great big mystery.

In my list of messengers, do I include the great blue herons that flap across my field of vision every day or so? They’re definitely on the move. The early butterfly sightings? The groundhogs standing on their hind haunches, surveying their fields like the farmers they are?

It’s a lot to ponder.

Do you get visitations, too? Periods of time when the animal- and bird-realms, and maybe plant- and tree-realms, or stone-realms, seem to come in clusters and chunks, with messages that you can decipher if you only take the time to meditate and contemplate their meanings?

I write this in the moments before I head upstairs to dream-time. Perhaps I’ll find more images there to enrich the story.


Gratitude List:
1. Visitors
2. Reminders
3. Messages
4. Dreams
5. Meditation

May we walk in Beauty!

Gratitudes, Musings, Poems, Poetry Prompts

A Truth Once Known

I fear this may be a little disjointed, perhaps two poems in one. I wanted to bring in some of the symbols of the priestesses who offer me challenge and invitation: Mary Magdalene, Eve, Hildegard of Bingen, Marie Laveau.


Meeting the High Priestess

How do you enter? How will you come?
Will you pass through the gates in perfect love and perfect trust?
Will you push back the veil of your own free will?
Do you have clean hands and a pure heart?

Contemplate roundness: circle and arc and sphere.
She holds out the apple, the egg and the skull,
the pregnant belly of the moon,
the round face of the grail,
the spiraling ends of the scroll,
the coiling round of the python.

Speak your Truth, and enter, and the Mysteries will be revealed.
Will the Truth set you free, or will it bind you,
with your dawning knowledge, to responsibility?

For ignorance is no longer bliss,
and a Truth once known
cannot be unknown again.

TOMORROW’S PROMPT: The Fool, still heady with the mysteries of today, will meet the Emperor tomorrow. Will he be a challenger or an ally? Or both, perhaps. The Emperor makes the laws, sets the boundaries, holds you accountable. He can be willful and demanding, tyrannical when he is unevolved. But when he is truly doing his work, he creates a balance and a structure within which the Fool can experience a sense of safety. He’s the Apollo to your Dionysus, the Roman to your Greek, the outline to your ramble. What poem will you make of him or his laws and boundaries?

Gratitude List:
1. Dead nettle. Have I mentioned dead nettles lately? Fields of purple glisten in the morning dew.
2. Glory clouds on the way home from work, sunrays streaming down. Clouds. All Clouds.
3. Fried egg on toast.
4. Sun on rain-wet leaves in the woods.
5. A pair of Canada geese have chosen to make the pond their home for now. They have created an artful nest at the edge of the pond, and Mama is sitting on it.

May we walk in Beauty!

Gratitudes, Musings, Poetry Prompts

Love and Hope

milkweed1  Love and Hope  eggses

“Where there is love, there is life.”  –Mahatma Gandhi

Today is US Independence Day:
May your celebrations today be filled with joyful moments with people you truly See you.

May we as a people live up to the ideals we set for ourselves, the dreams we claim to offer, and
the maturity that independence demands.

Here is your assignment for this morning, class: Set a timer for ten minutes.  Write a poem or an essay about what this day means to you without using the words freedom, values, ideals, dream, democracy, independence, liberty.  (Yes, I broke those rules in the little blessing I wrote up there–that’s what gave me this idea.)

Perhaps it is a function of the lazy rabbit-trail-filled brain-meanderings of summer, but a warning: Today’s gratitude list is rife with parenthetical notations.  I could not help myself, but I am not apologizing, nor am I amending.

Gratitude List:
1. I still haven’t seen one this season, but Jon keeps seeing them, and it makes me happy to know that they live here, too: black snakes.  They’re earnest and secretive, mysterious.
2. Yesterday I wrote about prayer, and a new and dear friend wrote to me of the Sufi concept of prayer as “opening to the divine radiance.” I looked it up, and my preliminary searches have found references to the phrase “Divine Radiance” in Muslim, Christian, and Jewish discussions of prayer.  This brings me great joy.  (And it was a lovely synchronicity, because I read her note just after a conversation with my parents, in which we had discussed Sufi mysticism, in which my father had been reading Hafiz poems to me. Am I not fortunate to have such parents? There’s a bonus gratitude thrown in for the morning.)
3. I love the charge in the air on a morning that is waiting for rain.
4. All the flowers.  In my parents’ (yes, there they are again) garden: deep red gloriosa lily with yellow tips, fluffy white hydrangea, deep purple and dusky rose lisianthus (because my name is Elizabeth Ann, I have this feeling that the Lizzy-Ann flower is personal to me), deep magenta rose, yellow day lily, violet clematis.  Along the roadsides, thousands of blue-eyed chicory (we used to call them cornflowers–I like both names), the elegant dusty green and golden-tipped heads of hag’s taper (mullein, but I like the common name), shaggy pink balls of milkweed that haven’t yet been mowed down (please let them stay!), bright orange day lilies, the delicate lace of Queen Anne, violet carpets of vetch, bright golden patches of buttercup.
5. Community conversations

May we walk–like the snakes, like the flowers, like the birds–in Beauty, in Wisdom, in Prayer.

Gratitudes, Musings

St. John’s Eve

Tea
And here is the tea I made using the three roots I harvested, along with a few others I had in my cupboard, and some slices of ginger root as well.  Roots teas are simmered rather than steeped, and my kitchen smelled earthy and wholesome during the process.

I am going to slip out of poetry-writing mode for a little while now, as I begin the summer process of compiling and editing, sorting and weeding the writings that I have now.  Today is St. John’s Eve, the day before the feast day of St. John the Baptist.  Throughout time and cultural spaces, this celebration has changed and shifted, collected some of the meanings of the Solstice which has passed only days ago.

Midsummer marks the moment in the northern hemisphere when the sun begins to lose its power (though we don’t feel it for many months yet).  St. John’s Day carries with it the transformative weight of the symbolic gift of baptism that St. John created, so the dying light is also representative of our own dying lights and our own transformative resurrections throughout our lives.  The cycles continue.  Change is not only possible, not only inevitable, but welcome.

Paradoxically, while the Sun-king is overthrown as the days begin to shorten, his power continues strong, and flares up for the next season.  I think this is the time for me to take the words that I have written and subject them to a baptism, watch them transform.  I have read that in some celebrations of St. John’s Day, a snake is one of the primary symbols, the creature who sheds its skin, leaving its dead self behind, while the living part continues on, sleek and shining, transformed.  That is what I seek for my words in this season.  I will continue to write gratitude lists for daily practice, and occasional poems and ramblings as the Muse speaks.

I found this traditional St. John’s Day poem:
Green is gold
Fire is wet
Future’s told
Dragon’s met.

May you meet your dragon with courage and aplomb in this season as you step into your future.

Gratitude List:
1. Date night was wonderful last night.  Friends gave us a gift certificate to the Accomac.  I don’t know that I have ever sat down in a restaurant and said to myself that I could order whatever I wanted, with no limits, but this is precisely what we did last night.  Jon had a Wild Boar Bibimbap with kimchi for appetizer, and a Petit Mignon with herbed potatoes and scorched asparagus with preserved lemon.  I had Chilled Sweet Pea Soup with lotus pods (like Odysseus’s crew members I might have chosen to stay in that land of the lotus forever) and Blackened Swordfish with summer squash and herb sauce, along with the asparagus.  For dessert, he had an Accomac version of a hot fudge sundae and I had Bananas Foster (though they don’t flambee it tableside on the wooden porch).  We shared a cosmopolitan made with cranberry juice and jalapeno-infused vodka.  I think I will be infusing some jalapenos this summer–it seems like such a medicinal thing to use for a fancy drink, but I love that heat.
2. All the adults who care for and offer attention to my children.  I grew up in such a nest as well, with wise and friendly and funny adults who took time for me, and I am incredibly grateful for the adults who create the same protected space for my own children.  I am thinking right now of Sandra, in particular, who has been their summertime companion for years now.  Now when they are probably old enough to be required to entertain themselves on farm days, they cannot do without her, and this is as it should be.
3. Cool winds announcing rain.  The plink of raindrops on leaves.
4. Cycles and changes. Transformation.  Leaving the old skin behind to live in the new and tender and shining skin.
5. Layers of sound in the distance and nearby in the morning.  Birdsong mingled with the human sounds of the day’s beginning.

May we walk in Beauty!

Gratitudes, Poems, Poetry Prompts

Once I Was a Snake

“Once I was a snake.  Once I was a weasel.”  –Joss Weaver-Kreider

Once I was a snake.
Once I was a weasel.
Once I was a spider
casting webs to catch
the fire of the sun.

At the dawning,
there were three trees:
walnut, poplar
and sycamore.
Generations of birds
nested in their branches.
Whole cities of small creatures
grew among their roots.
And black snakes carried news
along their highways,
from lofty breezy branches
to deep in the earth
where the the roots
sought underground streams.

Once I was a hawk.
Once I was an otter.
Once I was a grey owl
swooping from behind
the shadow of the moon.

As the first day began,
a small spring ran
from under a rock
off the flank of the ridge,
into a laughing stream
and down to a lazy river.
Families of crayfish
scuttled through the shallows.
Minnows twinkled in and out
of the sun-dappled pools.
A matriarch kingfisher
chortled and dove,
happy in her hunting.

Once I was a grouse.
Once I was a turkey.
Once I was a great elk
who sought my herd
in the valley of the stars.

 

Prompt for Wednesday

Two more days of January.  Then I take a break from poem-a-day to do some editing.  Let’s see.  What shall we write tomorrow?  I almost tried to fit an image from my morning into today’s poem, but couldn’t make it work.  How about making a poem about a powerful image of some sort?  Choose a painting, or a photo, or a memory with strong visuals.  Mine, I’ve written on my gratitude lists before, and I saw it again this morning: the lamp light shining on the hands of the bookbinder tenderly repairing an ancient book.

 

Gratitude List:

1.  Jon happened to go outside this evening to discover that the chickens had escaped.  Everyone is safe inside the coop tonight.
2.  Finding lost things
3.  So many shades of green
4.  Chocolate and coffee
5.  Making it myself

May we walk in beauty.

2011 June 199
Veggie mandala–I am looking forward to summer!