The inner room is filling with light, with shadow. More light and more shadow. Long, quiet, holy darkness. Short, sparkling light-filled days.
The little shack in C.S. Lewis’s Last Battle, and the Tardis in the Doctor Who television series, have something in common with you and with me. Each structure–shack, time machine, and human–is bigger are the inside than it appears from the outside. Outside, a normal-looking structure, but inside, a whole world of wonders.
Here in these days of quiet and clamor, of enfolding darkness and bedazzling light, we walk through the inner rooms like we walk through the old house that recurs in our dreams, exploring the nooks and crannies, the magical spaces and the dark closets. It’s so big! I never knew this room existed! Look! Over here is a room full of treasures! This one is dark and quiet, and contains only a tiny wooden box. Whisper. Shout! These stairs end in a pantry, and those go up to the roof. Open this door. And this one.
Feel the vast spaces within you, knowable, unexplored, waiting for you to enter and experience who you are in your deepest inner rooms. Stretch your hands up and out. Draw in deep breaths. Stretch and stretch. You are larger on the inside.
As the wise man who left us yesterday reminded us:
“Be here now.” –Ram Dass
Stretch. Expand. Explore.
Gratitude List: 1. Back home with the cats 2. People who do things simply to watch the delight on the face of a child 3. My marvelous father, born on this day. What an example of tenderness and compassion he is. 4. I am pretty sure that seven-bird V that just winged its way above the hollow was snow geese. 5. Today is going to be a work day. I kind of dread hard work–I’d rather be playing with yarn or making cookies or writing poems, but when this day is done, I will feel much more free in my spirit to do those other things.
This morning on the way to school, a long, rangy V of geese flew over the highway. It took me a moment to realize that they were snow geese rather than the Canada geese we see almost every day. A few miles later another V slid through the low clouds, this one in perfect formation, only a dozen or so birds, and again, I needed to re-arrange my sense of what I was seeing. This was no flock of geese, but a small flock of swans, their long necks a clear sign of who they were.
A week or so ago, my friend Suzy and I were talking about what swans mean: grace, flow, surrender to what is, trust in the process. I needed that conversation. I have been feeling like I haven’t been trying hard enough to figure out how to make more time in my life to write. I feel guilty because I can’t keep up with the work of teaching, and then guiltier still because I am pushing the writer’s life aside while I try to make peace with the grading. Surrender to the flow, said Suzy. Abide. Trust. Stop trying to push the river. Flow with it instead. I don’t know quite where that leads me toward making peace with my teacher/writer divide, but it eases the pressure.
And today the swans, following the geese, trailing behind them those words: “You do not have to be good.” Because that’s always what the geese say, since Mary. And today in class, a student did a presentation on a poet. His poet was Mary Oliver. And his featured poem? “The Wild Geese.” So it’s message upon message upon message.
There are words racing across the sky, in birds, in snowflakes, in cloud formations. And flowing in the rivers and streams, across lakes and oceans. And scattered in pebbles and plant-life all around us on the earth. So much to learn from. So much to listen to. So many texts to be read and understood.
Gratitude List: 1. Swans and snow geese, and the Canadas too. 2. The talented teamwork of the cast of our school’s musical. They were amazing! 3. Leaning in to the hard questions 4. Reconciliations 5. Tea
May we walk in Beauty!
“Dominator culture has tried to keep us all afraid, to make us choose safety instead of risk, sameness instead of diversity. Moving through that fear, finding out what connects us, revelling in our differences; this is the process that brings us closer, that gives us a world of shared values, of meaningful community.”
―bell hooks, Teaching Community: A Pedagogy of Hope
“Especially now, when views are becoming more polarized, we must work to understand each other across political, religious and national boundaries.” ―Jane Goodall
“When the people were great stones
we silently watched the dawn
we listened to the wind rushing over the mountains
we spoke the language of mist and dreams
and we could feel the pulsing rhythm
of the living heartbeat of the Earth.”
“A woman cannot make the culture more aware by saying ‘Change.’ But she can change her own attitude toward herself, thereby causing devaluing projections to glance off. She does this by taking back her body. By not forsaking the joy of her natural body, by not purchasing the popular illusion that happiness is only bestowed on those of a certain configuration or age, by not waiting or holding back to do anything, and by taking back her real life, and living it full bore, all stops out. This dynamic self-acceptance and self-esteem are what begins to change attitudes in the culture.”
―Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes
“Compassion is not a relationship between the healer and the wounded. It’s a relationship between equals. Only when we know our own darkness well can we be present with the darkness of others. Compassion becomes real when we recognize our shared humanity.”
“Ours is not the task of fixing the entire world at once,
but of stretching out to mend the part of the world
that is within our reach.”
—Clarissa Pinkola Estes
(Stolen from the internet. I do not know the photog.)
Gratitude List: 1. Yesterday’s Scholastics Awards Ceremony, honoring the thoughtful and careful work of student writers.
2. It looks like the migrating snow goose population at Middle Creek is really strong this year.
3. Ritual of turning over a new leaf–letting the old thing dissolve in water
4. Being part of many concentric circles of community. How could I survive without you?
5. Trees. Sap is rising, buds are forming.
Gratitude List: 1. Snow geese. In the distance, it looks like a flock of Canadas, but there’s something less substantial about them, leaner, longer in the wing–and their silhouettes are just a little lighter in the blue. Then they flash in the sun and you see the white, and the onyx wingtips. The turning of wheel into spring is real when the sojourners begin their trek homeward.
2. The great horned owls are out there calling each other.
3. I never did write about that Full Moon last Tuesday, how it was hanging over the edge of the horizon as I drove out the driveway in the morning, and how, when I cleared the top of the ridge, it suddenly seemed to leap into the sky.
4. I am grateful for the way my church values children. Participation in services, rituals and rites of passage, and Child Protection Policy. A whole Sunday service and sermon given to the need to have a strong and sound Child Protection Policy.
5. Walking around the farm this afternoon with my little scientist, photographing animal tracks and scat.
6. Singing a sick child to sleep.
7. Balance. Form and Freedom. Structure and Creative License. I had some really good discussions last Friday with several of my classes about rules, why we need them, why we sometimes need to break them. About extrinsic and intrinsic motivations for ethical behavior. About consequences and responsibility. I have some wise, wise people in my life, and many of those wise folks are under the age of twenty.
1. Like snowflakes falling across the field, they settled. Like they were choreographed. Snow geese. It always reminds me of the chilly winter day about 20 years ago when Jon and I were hiking on a ridge at Middle Creek and we looked out over the valley and the lake and it was suddenly like being inside one of those Japanese paintings, where petals or snowflakes or geese are settling downward so gracefully. Today was no less magical.
2. Dinner with good friends. I just don’t want to say goodbye.
3. Quest for a stone.
4. The River. Always this River and this Bridge.
5. Spikes of crocus in the flowerbed, and sunny aconite abloom.
A long day at Lancaster Science Factory today. It was perfect, and the boys loved it, but I did not have time to work on the pantoum, and I’m really too tired to write it tonight. So far, this is what I have:
A flock of sixteen snow geese flew high
above the hollow into a dream
scudding like clouds across the sky
That’s it. And I just can’t take it further tonight. Hopefully I can work it out tomorrow.
Finish the pantoum.
Gratitude List: 1. Family field trips
3. Meeting an old friend
4. Snow geese
5. Moments of grace