Gratitudes, Musings, Poems

Claiming Space


Gratitude List:
1. Time with friends
2. Pizza on the grill
3. New shelves in the classroom. I’m starting my fifth year here, and I finally feel like I am filling my space–giving away books that I won’t use, taking the time to organize my shelves in a logical way. I almost can’t wait to get back to teaching!
4. Cooler weather
5. Pewee calling from the chestnut tree

May we walk in Beauty!


Thursday’s Thoughts:
Marc Chagall: “In life there is a single color, it is the color of love.”
***
“Try this:
Sit in a circle at dusk with people you love.
Let it be when the swifts are flying.
Let there be a catbird with a whiskery voice in a spruce tree.
Speak your stories into the bowl of the space between you:
stories like a rich meal, the bitter, the savory, the sweet.
Let it get dark. The darkness will listen, too.
You can hear people listening when you speak in the dark.
You may light a candle if you have a candle.
Laugh together. Cry.
Let there be occasional questions,
occasional grunts, occasional exclamations of oh-I-hear-that!
Make a meal of the stories before you,
and eat your fill. Be nourished.
Be together in your stories.
Know that all these stories are your story, too.
Let there be a benediction,
words sung or spoken into the full dark,
accompanied by the chittering of bats,
good words to keep you always
in this circle where you belong.”
—Beth Weaver-Kreider
***
Thursday’s Quotes:
“Each of us faces a time when the holy well within needs tending. When we’re no longer able to bestow blessings on others because we’ve overgiven, or when something precious has been taken from us, or life’s demands are too great on our fragile system. But when the moisture goes out of our lives, and we’re no longer able to see beauty or converse with magic, we must ask ourselves how we can replenish our well-ness.” —Dreamwork with Toko-pa
***
“We are not to simply bandage the wounds of victims beneath the wheels of injustice, we are to drive a spoke into the wheel itself.” —Dietrich Bonhoeffer
***
“We never belonged to you. / You never found us. / It was always the other way round.” —Margaret Atwood
***
“Would you like to have an adventure now, or would you like your tea first?” —JM Barrie
***
“There is no agony like bearing an untold story inside you.” —Zora Neale Hurston
***
“. . .The knowledge of the heart is in no book and is not to be found in the mouth of any teacher, but grows out of you like the green seed from the dark earth…” —Carl Jung
***
“Listen. . .with the ear of your heart.” —The Rule of St. Benedict
***
“One child, one teacher, one book, and one pen can change the world.” —Malala Yousufzai
***
“It’s always the beginning of the world.

“Even if you don’t call yourself an artist, you have the potential to be a dynamic creator who is always hatching new plans, coming up with fresh ideas, and shifting your approach to everything you do as you adjust to life’s ceaseless invitation to change.

“It’s to this part of you—the restless, inventive spirit—that I address the following: Unleash yourself! Don’t be satisfied with the world the way it is; don’t sit back passively and blankly complain about the dead weight of the mediocre status quo.

“Instead, call on your curiosity and charisma and expressiveness and lust for life as you tinker with and rebuild everything you see so that it’s in greater harmony with the laws of love and more hospitable to your soul’s code.” —Rob Brezsny

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!

Gratitudes, Musings

Keep Pushing


Not intending to be maudlin here. I don’t know quite why the carvings of skull wings on 17th century gravestones is so fascinating to me.

Gratitude List:
1. Doing things. Channeling the unsettledness into working for change. Keep up the writing and calling, folks. Keep your Senators’ and Representatives’ feet to the fire. Demand that they be fully informed of the truth of what is happening. Send them the images and the videos and the news reports. Require them to respond.
2. Hours of professional development this afternoon with a colleague who just retired, and in passing on two challenging but fun classes to me.
3. Listening to a Terry Pratchett novel. I love reading the Tiffany Aching books, but to really get the accents right, you can’t beat an audiobook. I’m listening to Hatful of Sky. Really disappointed I couldn’t find Wee Free Men.
4. Butterflies
5. Colorful stones. I am oiling the collection of stones I found on Race Point Beach. It’s taking a while because I am soaking them for hours in the oil before polishing them. They come out with slightly matte colors compared to the brilliance of being in water, but the colors are definitely brighter than the dry ones.

May we walk in Beauty!


Quotes for the Day:
“I do not understand the mystery of grace — only that it meets us where we are and does not leave us where it found us.” ―Anne Lamott
***
“[E]ducation is not just about utilizing a particular curriculum, or ensuring that critical reflection in a community follows a particular formula. It is full of intangible and random events. It is not just taught in the classroom, but lived in the midst of the community in ways that are not even fully quantifiable.” ―M.S. Bickford on the educational theories of John Westerhoff
***
“The trouble with trouble is, it starts out as fun.” ―Anonymous
***
“One of the few things I know about writing is this: spend it all, shoot it, play it, lose it, all, right away, every time. . .give it, give it all, give it now.”
—Annie Dillard
***
“You can tell people of the need to struggle, but when the powerless start to see that they really can make a difference, nothing can quench the fire.”
—Leymah Gbowee
***
“There are opportunities even in the most difficult moments.” —Wangari Maathai
***
“Throughout my life, I have never stopped to strategize about my next steps. I often just keep walking along, through whichever door opens. I have been on a journey and this journey has never stopped. When the journey is acknowledged and sustained by those I work with, they are a source of inspiration, energy and encouragement. They are the reasons I kept walking, and will keep walking, as long as my knees hold out.”
—Wangari Maathai
***
“If you do follow your bliss you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while, waiting for you, and the life that you ought to be living is the one you are living. Follow your bliss and don’t be afraid, and doors will open where you didn’t know they were going to be.”
—Joseph Campbell
***
“I’m a Zen Buddhist if I would describe myself. I don’t think about what I do. I do it. That’s Buddhism. I jump off the cliff and build my wings on the way down.”
—Ray Bradbury

Gratitudes, Poems, Poetry Prompts

PoeTree

Years ago, during the month of April, I kept a poetree. Two dogwood trees stand on either side of my driveway. I would hang poems from the branches of the one closest to the house. Rain and snow caused problems until I got smart and hung them in plastic sheets. Since I have been teaching school, I have not had time to tend and April poetree, except on my bulletin board in the classroom one year. The year of this photo, 2013, I called myself the laundress of poetry, hanging my fresh sheets in the sun every few days.

Today’s prompt is to write a temptation poem. This year’s poems feel more solid than some years in the past. Fewer toss-offs, fewer place-holders. Today’s poem might fit those categories, but it has a little promise, I think:

Lead me not into temptation,
not into the Faculty snack room,
not into the valley of Facebook,
not into the sleepy arms of the recliner.

Lead me not into the second pot of coffee,
not into the bargain bin at the yarn store,
not into the library book sale,
not into the place of shiny stones.

Lead me into the long afternoon walk,
into the quiet seat in the spring sunshine,
into the circle of the oriole’s song,
into the embrace of a weeping pink tree.

Lead me into a whole classroom of laughter,
into the smile of a child,
into the room of your song,
into the twinkling space of your gaze.


Gratitude List:
1. Pink
2. Yellow
3. Yellow
4. Pink
5. Pink

May we walk in Beauty!

Gratitudes, Poems

Prayer and Rage

imag2090

What can we give besides our prayers and rage?
And what will that avail?
Send out the story on October winds.
Fling it high, where crows are flying.
Send the message echoing into earth
with every pounding step you take.

Listen.
Let the shells of your ears gather the story.
Reel in the gossamer strands of the tale
and weave them into the veil you wear.
Listen for the stories of those who weep,
those who rage, those who only speak
with the shrug of a shoulder,
with a sigh, with a shudder.

Listen, too, to those who walk right in,
who step into your circle without invitation.
Listen to the voices that are hard to hear.
Offer only the bread that is yours to give.
Be like the old gods, with the raven Wisdom
on one shoulder and Memory on the other,
and Reason perched upon your hat.

Offer what is yours:
your rage,
your prayer,
your watchful quiet heart.

Gratitude List:
1. Rage and prayer
2. Memory and Wisdom
3. Reason
4. Listening deeply. Being listened to deeply.
5. Graphic novels. I know this one is rather out of the context of the others, but the boys and I are really into graphic novels these days: the Amulet series, Zita the Spacegirl, Knights of the Lunch Table, and Mouse Guard. We really love Zita and her poor friend Randy who has a case of the squeaks.

May we walk in Beauty!

Gratitudes

Dreams of Flying

mermaid
During yesterday’s day alone, I took a little time to play with the Dreamscope app. This is younger me as a mermaid.

Gratitude List:
1. Featherbed. The very definition of coziness. (Check out John McCutcheon singing Featherbed.)
2. Yesterday’s solitude. I feel prepared to be back among people.
3. The great-horned owl calling from the bosque.
4. Dreams of flying. In last night’s dream, I wasn’t actually flying, but jumping and gliding. Still, it fulfilled the wild feeling of catching the wind.
5. Stones. Prayers.

May we walk in Beauty!

Gratitudes, Poems

Making a Circle to Hold a Heart

heartstone
A safe circle for a heart.

Is it cold in the house of the hummingbird,
when raindrops patter softly on the sycamore leaf-roof,

when one small bird has dared the day,
flown upward through sunbeams,
trusting to wings insubstantial as mist?

The other no longer sits more quiet than breath,
but turns her head to the thunder,
hunkers deep into her mattress of cobweb,
waits for her moment to fledge.

Gratitude List:
1. One small hummingbird has dared the day and taken first flight. Safe journeys!
2. Anticipating a weekend and time with friends
3. My wise and earnest colleagues
4. A fine collection of Maine island stones, each with a single white line across, each one a little message about pathways, direction, and destiny, about joining up and making a way where none seems to be
5. English grammar. I happened upon a really fun sentence modeling exercise, which I did with a couple of classes yesterday. One student, who struggles to understand the structure of a complete simple sentence, read out the sentence he’d built, which included carefully placed adverbs and adjectives, two prepositional phrases, an appositive phrase, a subordinate clause, and three absolute phrases. He sounded so elegant and well-spoken, but most delightfully, he sounded proud of himself.  Here is an example of a sentence using all of those pieces: In the classroom, one laid-back teenager, a young man who often has no time for grammar, proudly read an elegant sentence from his writing journal as his delighted teacher listened, the words flowing like water, the ideas sparkling in the air, the class electrified by language.

May we walk in Beauty!

Gratitudes, Musings, Poems

Roses and Honey

Poetry First Song

Here is a revision of a poem I wrote last year. I don’t think it’s quite finished. It was pretty loose and free when I first wrote it, which doesn’t bother me, but I wanted to take it into a more mythic rhythm, if I could. I shaped it into something like a triversen, trying to keep the four-beat rhythm on each line–working with the four beats felt like the Kalevalla, and I want to try working more with that old Scandinavian feel.  I’m not sure yet whether it’s better than the original. I’ll post the original at the end of this post, and you can tell me what you think, if you want to. I’m open to critique–feel free to spill some blood upon the page.

Once upon a time, Child, when you were caught in the swirling fog–
remember how it held you, how it caught your arms and legs like brambles,
until you saw the wild rose bush beside the pathway in the woods–

remember how the roses dropped their scarlet petals on the ground,
how the tender centers swelled into ripe red berries,
a little sharp, a little sweet, and how they fed you, how they healed you–

remember how the golden bees swarmed around you as you wandered,
how you cried out in fear, how suddenly the wakeful sun
broke through the buzzing cloud: all was golden, all was sweetness–

remember how you heard the howling in the distance, closing in,
how the beast emerged from the wood, all teeth and claw, all hiss and fury,
how you quelled the urge to run, how you looked it in the eye,

how you spoke into its raging, “What is your name?”
I remember now, how you walked that day out of the mists,
a rose in your hair and honey dripping from your fingers.

Gratitude List:
1. Sorting sea glass, stones and shells with Josiah
2. Getting to bed early and only waking up twice before 5
3. Revising: poetry, plans, ideas
4. Wise people
5. Everything is going to be okay

May we walk in Beauty!

***
First Version of the poem:

Once upon a time, Child,
when you were caught in the fog–
remember how it held you, how it
caught at your arms and legs like brambles,
until you saw the rose bush
beside the path in the woods–

remember how the roses
dropped their tender petals on the ground,
how the center swelled
into those ripe red berries,
a little sharp, a little sweet,
and fed you, healed you–

remember how the bees
swarmed around you,
how you cried out in fear,
how the sun broke through the buzzing cloud
and all was golden,
all was sweetness–

remember how you heard the howling
off in the distance and closing in,
how the beast emerged from the wood,
all teeth and claw,
how you quelled the urge to run,
how you looked it in the eye
and said, “What is your name?”

I remember now,
how you walked that day
out of the mists,
a rose in your hair
and honey dripping
from your fingers.

Gratitudes, Musings, Poems

Stones for Memory

Carin

Today’s prompt is to write a poem about memory.

I have always envied others their power of memory.  My own is so fickle, so capricious, unreliable.  My ability to concentrate and memorize poetry or lines for a play in the present moment are, I think, above average.  I’m nowhere close to having a photographic memory, but I feel like I understand the brains of people who do.  This has served me well in the short-term.  I can quickly learn a story, hold a lesson plan, memorize a poem, prepare for a play.  But my powers of remembering in the long-term are, I think, way below the average.  I can remember very few of the teachers in my growing up years.  Even college, even grad school, even my first years of teaching–all are receding, dragged backward out of my memory.  This has always been kind of painful for me.

What I tell myself is that I live in the present so completely, that the butterfly of my personality sits so completely in the now, that I do not take my mind back enough to pull out the pieces of past and examine them, and so they flow out and away.  Perhaps this is not exactly a defect in my personality, but it remains a deep and abiding pain.  I lose the past too utterly, and I do often feel it as a personal deficiency: if only I would get my flightly brain to concentrate more often on what has gone before, perhaps I could keep it, hold on to it.  Still, I cannot make myself hold memory.  My brain is wired for this moment.

I place in the hands of Time these stones:
the story of this day,
the people I have been near to,
the songs the Fates have whispered in my ears,
the colors that haunt me.

See how they turn to mist,
how they glow for a moment–
red, then golden, then blue–
then dissipate like ash blown by a wind
before I can register
that they have lost their substance.

Where does memory go
when it flows out with the tide,
when it slips down the drain,
when it is blown out with the morning fog?

I am still the child in the forest,
walking blind through the swirling mists,
under the shadows of the great trees.
With each forward step on the trail,
a little bird flutters from the pathway behind,
a bread crumb in its beak.

Gratitude List:
1. Memory
2. Longing
3. This moment
4. The shades of dawn
5. Small moments in which to breathe.

May we walk in Beauty!