The Elegance of Blackbirds

Gratitude List:

1. An extra day at home. Time to get more grading completed. Time with the kids. Time out of time.
2. The elegance of blackbirds. Those grackles with their white eyes, silhouetted on snow.
3. Yesterday morning’s moon. I forgot to talk about it yesterday, so I will remember it today, how it was caught in the branches of the walnut tree, how–above the round bales of straw on Picking Rd.–it was itself a round bale in the sky, how later it was alone, a single eye above us.
4. Snow. This was a lovely storm, and we didn’t even lose power.
5. The chicken-dance of fox sparrows.

May we walk in Beauty!

Waiting For March

Loving this filter.

snow, then warm breezes
I’m tired of waiting for March
to make up its mind

Gratitude List:
1. Cedar waxwings in a tree by the old haunted farm
2. Corn stubble field full of grackles
3. Horses playing in the snow
4. The way the morning sun draws lines across the fields and hollows with the trees
5. Another fine music chapel this morning. LMH students are incredibly gifted, from the haunting version of “Scarborough Fair” in Simon and Garfunkel mode to a heavy metal guitar solo that set the stage on fire (not literally) and everything in between. Brilliant.

May we walk in Beauty!



Gratitude List:
1. Oh wow. I am going to be grateful tonight for Mitch McConnell. Not for what he did, mind you, but for those most excellent words about Elizabeth Warren: “She was warned. She was given an explanation. Nevertheless, she persisted.” Someone said it’s the whole history of women’s progress summed up in eleven words. Brilliant.
2. The persistence of Elizabeth. And Coretta. And Rosa. And Sojourner. And Harriet. And Kamala. And Michelle. And Vandana. And Rachel. And Jane. And Anonymous. And You. You’ve been warned, given the explanation. Yet nevertheless, you persist. Brilliant.  Thank you.
3. The persistence of an amazing and growing group of students at school who continue to lead us all toward a deeper understanding of inequality and equality, of justice and injustice, of race and wealth and power. I know at a deep level that teachers are in schools not just to teach, but to learn. These young folks keep proving that. They’re brilliant.
4. Venus. Can’t really see her tonight with the storm moving in, but she’s been so incredibly shiny this month. She’s brilliant.
5. The hope of a snow day tomorrow. I am like a little kid. I know it might not pan out, but it’s so exciting to anticipate, especially with scholars here in the household who are also excited about the possibility of at least a delay. every winter deserves at least one, right? This one isn’t brilliant, just sweet.

May we walk in Beauty and Brilliance!

Learning to Fly

2012 October 053

Never fight a cloud.
Never grasp the wind
in your fists.  Wind is
meant to be ridden
like a rough colt.
Give yourself to it
as you give yourself
to the salt waves.
Let it buffet you,
twist and batter you.
Rise.  Breathe deeply.
Learn the pathways
of currents and drafts.

(First line found on an online “poetry generator.”  This is a very drafty draft, but I do want to write something about riding the wind, so I will let it be a place-holder.)

Gratitude List:
1. Watching a high school crew create a dramatic performance.  The students at my school and their directors did an amazing job putting together “The Sound of Music” last night.
2. Sleep.  This is a placeholder.  I am running on very little sleep at the moment, and will likely run a little low for the next couple of nights.  But I am grateful for sleep, for the little I can get now, and for the good rest I will get in a few days.
3. That lovely, lovely snow.  Simple frosting.
4. The sense of taste.  Isn’t flavor a marvelous thing?
5. Weaving the threads together.  People.  Meanings.  Ideas.

May we walk in Beauty!

The Holiness of Desire


(I’m not sure whether this is quite finished, or whether it says exactly what I want it to say.  But this is my writing space, whether a piece is finished or in process, and this is where I leave this one this morning.)

Sometimes the body forgets
how desire is holy,
how the craving, the longing–

for a place that recedes
into the mists of memory,
or the comfort of a restful bed,
for touch, for the answer
to the body’s sweet secret yearnings,
for the way the lungs passionately
embrace the air that enters–

all is echo of the larger ache,
the primal urge for re-union
with the Source of all,
Godself urging us inward
to the primal dance
like the dance
at the center of the atom,
whirling particles held
within each other’s orbit.

Gratitude List:
1. The assembly that celebrated Lunar New Year on Monday.  Dragons, dancers and tai kwon do demonstrations.  I would like to learn to feel that sort of strength and focus in my own body.
2. Two-hour delay.  The resultant daily schedule is a little frenzied for me, but I am happy for the extra time here this morning.
3. Good fair-trade coffee
4. All that draws me onward and inward
5. Following through with the intentions

May we walk in Beauty!

Snowy Day


Gratitude List:
1. Thundersnow (though, frankly, I could have done without the lightning when I was out shoveling a spot for Fred).
2. The children’s delight in the snow.
3. A warm and cozy house.  (I am worried about what the women from the shelter are doing today, hoping someone has made arrangements for them to have indoor spaces today, hoping that there were intrepid volunteers to staff the shelter this weekend.)
4. Word play.
5. Snow.  Did I say snow?  (Oooh, there was another crash of thunder just now!)

May we walk in Beauty!
Stay warm, ya’ll.

True Names

2013 April 004

I gave my students in Creative Writing an assignment to create a collage and then write a short story or poem or essay that was sparked by the images that came together.  The idea was to begin the semester by unhitching the horse of the brain from the writing process for a moment–letting the creative urge impel them–and also to get them working with images right away.

I haven’t taken a photo of my collage yet, but here is the poem I wrote in response to them (I always seem to make two collages at a time).  A friend of mine recently turned me on to Francisco X. Alarcon’s poetry (he died a couple days ago), and I am finding the simplicity of his work to be incredibly powerful.  I cannot quite get myself to simplify enough to really be Alarconesque, but it was a powerful poetic experience to work in his style.  Also, we have been working with models of professional writers as a way to spark creativity, and we were working with an Ursula Le Guin short story about True Names, and that also found its way into my poem:

fire and flight

after the fire
has kindled
within you
patient gestation
of coals beneath
your heart
your ribs

fire within you
fire in the earth
fire in the fruit
the egg
the seed

flames will burst forth
and you will rise

you will know
your wings
you will
open your feathers
catch the breezes

the old world
of magic and monsters
will fall away
below you

you will dance
on pillows of cloud
you will swim
in rivers of air

you will hear your
true name
in the voice
of the wind

Gratitude List:
1. The promise of snow.  (I know, it causes anxiety, too, not knowing what will happen, but I look forward to being cocooned in the house for a time.)
2. Making collage.  Perhaps it was an entirely personal agenda to give that assignment, but I had fun making my own collages.
3. Lights at ends of tunnels.
4. Taking root.  Taking flight.
5. True Names.  One of your True Names is Beloved.

May we walk in Beauty!

Snow Crocus

Not a particularly clear photo of the white crocus in the snow.  Among the masses of deep purple and bright violet crocus is one golden crocus who was completely covered by the snow, and this lovely white one, camouflaged in the snow.

Gratitude List:
1. Crocus in the snow
2. Crow in the snow.  There is some inward thrill I can’t quite name about those black wings flying through a field of dancing white flakes.  Also, I love seeing black wings against a field of golden corn stubble.  Black wings against a blue sky.  Black wings through misty air.
3. Yesterday’s conversations, Part A:  For my opening moments in class yesterday, I followed the lead of another teacher friend and showed a video about a high school student who was disturbed by the unkindness of tweets between students in his school.  He began a Twitter account in which he began tweeting sincere and heartfelt compliments about his friends.  People began talking about it, and it began to snowball.  I was afraid my students might be cynical, and the one class that I was most concerned about began talking about it in a slightly cynical vein, and then suddenly they were sharing about the things that hurt them, the ways they respond to unkindness, the ways they try to include each other.  We didn’t really get to my actual lesson for the day, but I am pretty certain that learned more in that spontaneous, student-generated conversation than anything I could have offered them.  I need to keep remembering that once in a while the best thing a teacher can to is just get out of the way.  Language Arts is about expanding the communication skills of students–so I consider that class a success on the academic as well as the psycho-social level.
4. Yesterday’s conversations, Part B:  I ended up getting home much later than I had planned to because a Chinese student stopped by after school to talk about how to improve his English grammar.  We went through his most recent paper in detail, and talked about how to make his sentences flow.  While we were working on the paper, we also talked about imperialism: Japanese imperialism in China at the time of World War II, and Roman imperialism at the time of the Caesars.  I love being back in the world of academia and watching my students beginning to piece together their ideas and learning.
5.  As I typed that last, I had a sudden vision in my head of my grad school professor, Dr. Zancu, who would set up a discussion, then sit back and smile and nod serenely at us as we went at it.  I feel myself in the stream of the many good teachers I have had in my life: my mother who was my Kindergarten teacher; Miss Guntz, my fifth grade teacher at Locust Grove Elementary, and my other teachers there; my teachers at LMH; professors at EMU and Millersville and Sunbridge College; Sarah Preston, who has taught me so much about putting my roots into earth and my branches among the stars.  I am incredibly grateful for my teachers.  I feel a convergence, as though all those streams of learning are meeting now.
6.  Since those last few were several parts of one theme, I am going to give myself a bonus gratitude this morning:  Rising to the occasion.  I have gotten used to saying, “That’s not in my skill set.”  And that’s great protection–it has served me well and kept me from getting too caught up in too many things that I can’t quite manage.  But there also comes a time when it seems right to say, “I am ready to grow in that area and develop those skills.”  Scary stuff, that.  I am going to take on the symbol of the mountain lion for a while, to help me focus on the inner growth that I want to develop.

May we walk in Beauty!