Gratitudes, Musings

More Music

Roses still blooming after the snow.
Sunday evening in Lancaster, in the week after the snow,roses were still blooming, and the hips are swelling. If you don’t put chemicals on your roses, now is the time to harvest the hips for tea.

Gratitude of Resistance Twenty-Five:
The McCaskey Gospel Choir and their amazing director Ms. Stevens. Energy, verve, commitment, delight, depth. . .they brought such a fine musical program to our school yesterday, and finished up by inviting our singing groups up onto the stage to perform the last song with them. Such a rich experience. All day, that moment of their day was one of the things my students were expressing gratitude for.

May we walk in Beauty!

Gratitudes, Musings

Water Under the Bridge

Sigh. I don’t have the time to do a sketch every day. I am going to try to maintain the practice, at least periodically, though perhaps I won’t always post them here, and just see where it takes me.

I love that photo of the water under the bridge. I didn’t notice until I pulled it up a few minutes ago that the reflections in the water look like script.


Gratitude List:
1. Deliberation.
2. Fajitas for supper.
3. The writing on the water.
4. The sweet-faced, open-hearted batch of students this semester.
5. The little songs of cats.

May we walk in Beauty!

Gratitudes, Musings

The Dragon of Solstice


Not the clearest picture, perhaps. One of the riders in my car took it, and my camera doesn’t handle near-darkness very well. This was in the early stages of her metamorphosis. About five minutes later, she was looking more dragonish than ever.

Now we are several hours into Longest Night. Tomorrow, we begin the inward turn again. Now is the time to settle into the darkness. To breathe. To dream. To melt.

In my own sacred calendar, the night of Solstice begins the deepest dreamtime of the year, almost time out of time. From now until the first of the year, or until Epiphany, I will monitor and mine my dreams for the images that will guide me in the coming year. Already, my dreams have been tossing up some powerful images to begin the percolation.

May your dreams in this, the Longest Night, bring you peace and hope. May they invigorate and inspire and challenge you for the work ahead. For there is much work ahead. There will be need of wakefulness and wisdom.

Much Love and Beauty to you.

Gratitude List:
1. This evening on the way home from school, just as the sun was setting, and the day was opening the curtains into the Longest Night, a great dragon swept across the sky, casting its body from east, and around the bowl of sky, into the west. Its head lay directly in front of us, toward the setting sun. It had swallowed the sliver of a horned moon. If you weren’t looking closely, as we were, you might have taken it for a cloud. We decided that The Dragon of the Solstice was offering us a portent or a message for the dying year: Be fierce. Take up all the space you are given. Believe in miracles. Hold the Moon inside you.

2. The geese and little birds are crossing the sky these early mornings and late evening, like mysterious scripts that someone, certainly, will be able to read, but my eyes are not trained to interpret this alphabet. Still, like Korean or Chinese or Hindi or Arabic, it catches my eye and draws me in with the sense of the meaning that is there behind the lines, but to me is only Beauty.

3. I have many friends and beloveds who are perfectly yourselves. Divinely, wondrously, solidly, and delightfully yourselves. Where would I be without you, without your inspiration, without your challenges? You keep me honest. You help me to be my better self. So much of my own shine is reflection from you. You’re the moon I carry inside me.

4. Rage has lessons to teach me. I’ll try to be grateful now simply to know that, although it burns to carry those coals inside. Sometimes, I think I have learned the lessons–the vocabulary, the angles and calculations, the social history, the science–of rage, but then I find myself back in the primary class. It takes some of us a little longer to learn. I will be patient with myself.

5. I have a class of quite energetic, distractible students who have experienced a high degree of frustration with the subject at hand. Often, the most carefully-planned lessons fall flat, but they can’t handle too much spontaneity, either. I really need to work hard with them on writing, and I have been nervous about that for several reasons. One boy often freezes when I ask them to write. Another can’t handle silent, quiet work and creates so many distractions the others can’t work.

Still, I decided that yesterday I would give them five prompts and have them write about one or more for the whole period. With only one exception, they got to work with a will, several of them asking if they could write whatever they wanted instead of the prompts. I had them share their documents with me, and I would check in on them, offering comments and responses on their documents. At the end of the period, they begged for another day of writing.

Today, we wrote again, for the whole period. Some incredible stories are emerging. We’re doing absolutely no editing at this point, and things are pretty raw, but it will give us something to work on in the next step. The only student who couldn’t handle it yesterday came in today with a page and a half that he’d written between yesterday’s class and today. Everyone buckled down and wrote today. They begged for a third day of writing.

I am going to tempt the magic for one more day. Then we may have to move to other things: some more direct work on the basic grammar and sentence structure points, and other sorts of literacy and fluency work.

I am grateful for moments of magic in the classroom.

May we walk in Beauty!

Gratitudes

Magic Happens

Gratitude List:
1. I love writing poems in November, and I am always relieved when November is over.
2. Some days, you just let the students hijack the lesson and magic happens as they tell their own stories.
3. Morning mists and magenta sunrises
4. Trying again after you fail
5. The open spaces of a weekend

May we walk in Beauty!

Gratitudes, Musings, Poems, Poetry Prompts

Guardian of Dreams

Today’s Prompt is similar to an earlier one, with a single letter change: ______ of _____

Guardian of Dreams
by Beth Weaver-Kreider

She rises from the shadows
when you wander in the dreamscape.
She stands above the doorway
and awaits your greeting.
She gives you the gift of her name
and stands aside that you may pass inward.


Gratitude List:
1. Enough leftovers for supper. What an odd, delightful mashup it was: Valerie’s lentil and collard soup as the base, with the leftover chicken curry and rice and some leftover noodles. Injera and oatmeal bread.
2. Dreams with messages.
3. Catching my breath. A little.
4. That pink cloud this morning. Breath-taking.
5. Rivers of crows in the sky.

May we walk in Beauty!


Last Night’s Gripping Dream:
We’ve moved to a new house, set on a hill above the barn. From the house, a small row of bushes obscures all but the top of the barn. As we explore the new barn, we’re a little overwhelmed by all the rusty junk and hay bales and mess. Cobwebs are everywhere, and it’s dark and dingy. We hear people walking around upstairs, but we’re too scared to go up there, so I yell, “Get out of our barn!” We go back up to the house.

A little while later, it has snowed, and we see that someone has shoveled all around the barn. We decide we have to confront the squatters. We get in the big red truck and race down the hill, right through the shoveled area and plow into a snowbank.

As we walk up to the barn door, we see a woman crouching in the bushes on the roof area above the barn door. She’s enormous. Heavy, sumo-style, and maybe eight or ten feet tall. She has a Renaissance-style hairdo with a pink rose, and she is completely naked. Her skin is a mocha color and she has enormous and compelling eyes.  I ask her her name. She says it’s Panella. (Or Panadella.) I do not feel threatened or anxious about her–I feel like she is sort of a guardian.

Inside, we are utterly astounded. Someone has, in an incredibly short period of time, completely cleaned the barn. The junk is gone. The hay bales and cobwebs are gone. There’s fresh plaster on the walls, neatly placed between barn beams. It’s gently lit, all over, upstairs and down. There must be fifty or sixty people in the barn. One woman is wearing silver body paint, head to foot. She and the others we first encounter seem a little startling, and not particularly friendly, but not threatening. The others we meet are friendlier, eager to show us around, to talk. It’s definitely my kind of party, no loud noises, sort of hushed conversations, but people everywhere, threading themselves through the space.

It is furnished like a house, and downstairs there is an enormous walk-in fireplace with a sort of ditch in front of the fire, and water running through the ditch. In front of that are lit candles. I am aware of how carefully people have placed the candles within the fireplace area, in order to be safe. They take us outside to show us the incredible compost pile they’ve created. They point up the hill to the other neighbors’ house. “Those are the hippie neighbors,” they say. The hippie neighbors’ house is a pavilion-style despite the frigid weather, and the hippie neighbors have their feet up on a low all, and they’re drinking and smoking.

Actually, the ones who’ve created this space aren’t here. They’ve gone out and left their friends there to have a party. There’s a young woman–I think her name is Elise–who used to go to the Waldorf School. A young man is a graduate of LMS. And there’s a third.

I feel incredibly drawn to this dream. There in my inner world, a space I tend to neglect in the rush of the daily, where I thought there would be clutter and ruin, are inviting rooms filled with energy and innovation. Jon pointed out that two of the Creators are from schools where I have taught, so I am wondering if the third might be a BCCC student. After a challenging morning conversation about some of the issues some of our students are experiencing, I spent a good part of yesterday worrying about my students, wondering if I have been doing enough to educate my students about racism and misogyny, about recognizing their entitlement and privilege.  I feel like this dream was a message from my deeper self that I need to trust that the daily work bears its fruit, that these people will have the creativity and resilience to create healthy lives.  And Panella? I think She is my Guardian.

Gratitudes

Mirror in the Hands of God

“The truth was a mirror in the hands of God. It fell, and broke into pieces. Everybody took a piece of it, and they looked at it and thought they had the truth.” –Rumi
*
“Keep me away from the wisdom which does not cry, the philosophy which does not laugh and the greatness which does not bow before children.”
~ Khalil Gibran
*
“If you are neutral in a situation of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.” –Desmond Tutu
*
“In a moment of pure frustration today, I realized that there is no angry way to say ‘bubbles.'” –Anonymous
*
“God is an artist. It invented the giraffe, the elephant, and the cat. It has no real style, it just goes on trying other things.” ~Pablo Picasso


Gratitude List:
1. Yesterday afternoon, a monarch making lazy loops through the echinacea patch behind the old classroom building at school.
2. The day before, a pair of goldfinches twittering in the same patch of echinacea.
3. A very pleasant (if a little hot) first day of school. All those thoughtful, shining faces!
4. My thoughtful and compassionate colleagues
5. Love and Learning. Love and Learning.

May we walk in Beauty!

Gratitudes, Musings

I Just Love that Kid

I wonder if my students sometimes find themselves filled with a warm feeling out of nowhere, as if someone has just whispered, “I just love that kid,” and they can feel the vibe like a gentle breeze across their souls. I always feel a little frustrated with myself at the end of a semester when I still have a stack of grading to finish, and I wish I could have handed the papers directly to the students for the feedback; still, I also love to have these final moments of quiet, thoughtful contemplation of each one of them, bringing them back into my mind as I read their last words of the school season. Often, I catch myself whispering, “I just love that kid.”


Gratitude List:
1. My own schedule. Sleeping when I want. Working and taking breaks when I want.
2. Planning for next year. While I am doing this last bit of grading, I am thinking about how to make next year’s classes even better. How to define my assignments more clearly. How to ask more effective questions. How to get them interacting with each other more. How to elicit critical thinking. How to stimulate curiosity and creativity. How to challenge them without creating frustration.
3. Indigo bunting
4. Nettle/mint/dandelion/wild chamomile/catnip/plantain tonic. Good for what ails you.
5. Solitude

May we walk in Beauty!

Gratitudes

Eight Candles


Gratitude List:
1. People who cry when they read the sad parts in books. I am thinking of a particular student wiping her eyes as she finished the last pages of her most recent book.
2. Cherry blossoms
3. The tight fists of buds in the Flinchbaugh orchards. Some tiny blooms, too.
4. This parenting gig. Birthdays remind me how precious it all is, and how fleeting.
5. People are still talking about the Senior Presentations. During Tuesday’s final group, the rooms were packed, the energy was high, and the support was evident. People were pronouncing blessings on their fledglings. I love to hear students speak of how much they appreciate their teachers–it gives me a new and deeper appreciation (already deep) for my colleagues.

May we walk in Beauty. May we shower each other with Blessings.

Gratitudes, Musings

The Rivers and the Bridges

coptic-bridge
Nag Hammadi and Susquehanna (via Dreamscope app)

Being able to weave together two different photos gives me the chance to blend my obsessions. Here, the Bridge over my River, and a piece of ancient Coptic text on a papyrus. I don’t have much time these days for personal researches, but when I have a free moment, I often turn to texts from the Nag Hammadi Library. Right now, I keep a page of The Thunder, Perfect Mind open on a tab on my Chromebook. Those texts are both a bridge and a river for me. I love how this mash-up placed text where the leaves of the sycamore would be in summer, and how there seems to be the suggestion of a greater arch in the sky above the arches of the bridge.

Gratitude List:
1. The willows are putting on their shiny green dancing clothes for spring.
2. The way flocks of little birds connect the dots across the sky.
3. Three crows in a field in the dawn, bobbing their heads up and down, doing obeisance to the sunrise.
4. Tea. It has been such a non-frigid winter that I haven’t often felt the need for tea to break the chill. Lately my students have been making tea in my room, and I enjoy a couple cups a day with them, and then some in the evening. It takes away the craving for the second cup of coffee and leaves me feeling warmed from the inside out.
5. Teenagers. I don’t know why I used to be anxious about the idea of teaching in a high school. The brilliant minds, the bursting creativity, the great hearts, the developing critical thinking skills. I love them. I am learning so  much. They are also my rivers and my bridges.

May we walk in Beauty!

Gratitudes

You Are Welcome Here

screenshot-2017-01-29-at-9-56-22-am
Available as a pin on https://www.zazzle.com/skunk_holler

Gratitude List:
1. Lancaster, PA. Hundreds of people stood on the four corners of Penn Square to support refugees from Muslim countries, to resist the Muslim Ban. I stood with Iraqi friends, with Syrian friends. There were teachers and students there from my school, people from church, people from the peace groups, babies and teenagers, elders and middle-agers. The trees were still wrapped in their holiday lights, and people were carrying candles and signs. There were pink hats and hijabs and shaved heads. Laughter and shouting and tears.
2. That bowl of a moon that smiled down on us, filled with a twinkling of Earthshine, there, next to bright Venus.
3. The scarf-bombers. On our way out, we passed through a gathered group of scarf-bombers, pixies out on the town, leaving warm treasures for those who need warmth on a cold night. I knew at least one student from my school in that group, too.
4. The World-Changers. I am filled with pride to think that at two different events in Lancaster tonight, one to show support for displaced people, and one to show support for homeless people–at both of those events were students from my school. I am awash in pride and wonderment at their determination to good in the world.
5. Respite. Retreat. Rejuvenation.

May we walk in Beauty!  So much love.