Gratitudes, Musings, Poems

Into the Dark, December 9

Every year at this time, I feel the anxiety and restlessness begin to rise within me, and the cold settles into my bones. Every year, I need to consciously ease my spirit into the season. This year, from the beginning of December until Epiphany, I will set it down here on the blog. May we journey into the darkness with intention and tenderness.

The word I will wear in my spirit today is synchronicity, that joyful coincidence which feels like more of a tug from the Mystery than a simple overlay of two events or ideas that randomly touch each other. When the moment feels like a message. When meaning bubbles out between that moment and this one like steam rising through the crack between the pot and the lid. When a word or an image brings gooseflesh and chills.

Yes, I believe in science. I believe that random events happen in coincidental ways according to predictable, mathematically-verifiable patterns and rhythms. And I know, too, that my life would be stripped of much of the winsome delight and sense of wonder that fills it were I not to accept the gifts of those coincidences with gratitude and awe. Meaning is so often what we make it. You get to form and focus the meaning of the things that happen to you. Why not choose to live with a sense of the interconnectedness of all things, even the seemingly random events? Yes to math and yes to magic.


Gratitude List:
1. Synchronicity
2. The Wingpeople: herons and eagles and wrens, mockingbirds and gulls, vultures and crows
3. Twinkling eyes
4. Gingerbread
5. Candlelight

May we walk in Beauty!


“Once upon a time,
When women were birds,
There was the simple understanding
That to sing at dawn
And to sing at dusk
Was to heal the world through joy.
The birds still remember what we have forgotten,
That the world is meant to be celebrated.”
—Terry Tempest Williams


“He drew a circle that shut me out-
Heretic , rebel, a thing to flout.
But love and I had the wit to win:
We drew a circle and took him in!”
―Edwin Markham, From the poem “Outwitted”


“To the degree that each of us is dedicated to wanting there to be peace in the world, then we have to take responsibility when our own hearts and minds harden and close. We have to be brave enough to soften what is rigid, to find the soft spot and play with it. We have to have that kind of courage and take that kind of responsibility. That’s the true practice of peace.” —Pema Chodron


“HIDING

is a way of staying alive. Hiding is a way of holding ourselves until we are ready to come into the light. Even hiding the truth from ourselves can be a way to come to what we need in our own necessary time. Hiding is one of the brilliant and virtuoso practices of almost every part of the natural world: the protective quiet of an icy northern landscape, the held bud of a future summer rose, the snow bound internal pulse of the hibernating bear. Hiding is underestimated. We are hidden by life in our mother’s womb until we grow and ready ourselves for our first appearance in the lighted world; to appear too early in that world is to find ourselves with the immediate necessity for outside intensive care.

Hiding done properly is the internal faithful promise for a proper future emergence, as embryos, as children or even as emerging adults in retreat from the names that have caught us and imprisoned us, often in ways where we have been too easily seen and too easily named.

We live in a time of the dissected soul, the immediate disclosure; our thoughts, imaginings and longings exposed to the light too much, too early and too often, our best qualities squeezed too soon into a world already awash with too easily articulated ideas that oppress our sense of self and our sense of others. What is real is almost always to begin with, hidden, and does not want to be understood by the part of our mind that mistakenly thinks it knows what is happening. What is precious inside us does not care to be known by the mind in ways that diminish its presence.

Hiding is an act of freedom from the misunderstanding of others, especially in the enclosing world of oppressive secret government and private entities, attempting to name us, to anticipate us, to leave us with no place to hide and grow in ways unmanaged by a creeping necessity for absolute naming, absolute tracking and absolute control. Hiding is a bid for independence, from others, from mistaken ideas we have about our selves, from an oppressive and mistaken wish to keep us completely safe, completely ministered to, and therefore completely managed. Hiding is creative, necessary and beautifully subversive of outside interference and control. Hiding leaves life to itself, to become more of itself. Hiding is the radical independence necessary for our emergence into the light of a proper human future.” —David Whyte

Gratitudes, Musings

Back to Gratitude

I need to step back into a thoroughly conscious and anchored gratitude practice these days. The rage and grief that I am feeling over what we are doing to the children at our borders threatens to capsize me, and I need to keep drawing down the energy, grounding, centering, focusing on the beautiful and tender realities that I notice around me.

Before the gratitude list, there’s a small sad thing that keeps getting tangled in my heart when I try to make my list: When we got home from vacation, I looked for Our Lady of the Flowers in her nest of cobweb and lichen on the swingy sycamore branch in front of the porch. The nest is gone. Fragments remain, stuck to the branch, but the little bowl is collapsed and torn. I hope Herself was able to fly free of whatever peril destroyed her home.

Gratitude List:
1. Lovely synchronicities: Today, a friend of mine who I met separately from my family saw a picture I posted on Facebook of my parents on their wedding day 57 years ago. My friend said she recognized my mother’s name, and wondered if she was the same friend she had known for a year when their husbands were both doing medical residencies at York Hospital in the mid-60s. They had had babies within a couple weeks of each other. It was! (My brother was that baby.) A lovely collision of the past into the now. It’s so satisfying.
2. This morning after I had mowed, I stood and watched the afternoon sun playing on the willow tree. A breeze whipped up and yellow locust leaves began sifting down all over the field while the willow danced in the sunlight. No photo, no video, would do it justice. Memory will have to suffice.
3. Little toad in the corner of the wood shop.
4. As wonderful as last week was, traveling, vacationing–still, I didn’t have the clear and unalterable sense of summer. I didn’t have a chance to establish summer routine before we left for Cape Cod. And that was perfect, because now I get to really live into the feeling of being on summer vacation.
5. Family sleeping parties. We’re all sleeping in the living room tonight to be near the air conditioner.

May we walk in Beauty!


I decided that I will try to make at least one phone call or write one letter every day this week, begging our congresspeople to speak out against the Family Separation Policy that the Attorney General has begun to enforce. Today, I called Smucker and Toomey.

Keep up the pressure on your Senators and Representatives. Ask them what their public statements are regarding the Family Separation Policy. Ask them for information about who is caring for the children. Are they vetted? Do they have clearances? How are the children being cared for? Are they getting their nutrition? Do they play? Are they getting education? Ask whether Health and Human Services is responsible for their care, and if so, why the administration is trusting HHS when within the past two weeks, HHS has admitted losing track of children in its care, some to traffickers.

Keep holding out your hands to people who are different from you politically. This is an affront to humanity, not just a liberal or conservative cause. Keep your heart open, keep soft, but don’t let the rage and grief throw you off. Hold on to your own humanity, to your own Love. These are difficult times, and people who would rip children from the arms of their parents in order to keep them out of our country would do anything to solidify their power.


Quotes for the day. I am conflicted about the Garrison Keillor quote because of the several credible accusations against him, but it came up on my feed today, and it felt like it meant to be there.

“Nothing you do for children is ever wasted.”
—Garrison Keillor
***
“It’s still a world with plums in it, my loves, & chamomile & lipstick & cellos. It’s still a world with us in it. Find a hand & hold on.” —Elena Rose
***
“The real work of planet-saving will be small, humble, and humbling, and (insofar as it involves love) pleasing and rewarding. Its jobs will be too many to count, too many to report, too many to be publicly noticed or rewarded, too small to make anyone rich or famous.” ―Wendell Berry
***
”So many of us feel an agonizing longing to contribute something meaningful to the deficits of our time. But years can disappear in the doing of duties, in the never-reaching of rising expectations, in the always-falling-short of proving of one’s enoughness.

“The truth is that if we really want to make an eloquent offering of our lives, we have to step out of that ‘call and response’ relationship with the external world and locate our source of guidance within.

“To hear the rhythm of your indigenous song, to fall in step with the poetry of your unfolding, first there must be a clearing away: a ‘temenos’ of simplicity in which to dwell.

“Strike a holy grove of silence where you can listen as you long to be heard, see as you long to be seen, acknowledge where you long to be relevant, needed and necessary in the ‘family of things’.” ―Dreamwork with Toko-pa
***
“One is not born into the world to do everything but to do something.”
―Henry David Thoreau
***
“We stand together. We stick up for the vulnerable. We challenge bigots. We don’t let hate speech become normalized. We hold the line.” ―J.K. Rowling
***
Rumi: “Ours is no caravan of despair.”
***
“I profess the religion of love wherever its caravan turns along the way; that is the belief, the faith I keep.” ―Asma Kaftaro, UN Women Advisory Board
***
“Human rights are not things that are put on the table for people to enjoy. These are things you fight for and then you protect.”
―Wangari Maathai

Gratitudes, Musings, Poems, Poetry Prompts

Guarding Our Deepest Treasure


Today’s Prompt is to write a “good for nothing” poem:

Good for Nothing
by Beth Weaver-Kreider

This poem has not practiced its lines,
it hasn’t memorized the tricky bits,
it doesn’t know the plot shifts.

This poem might be good for something,
but more likely it’s a time-waster.
More likely, it’s just addlepated.

This poem knows it isn’t going anywhere.
It knows it’s got a short shelf life,
so it will just take this country minute

to saunter into the middle of the room
and bow, and tell the only story it knows:
about the poem that has not practiced its lines.


“When Tolkien needed someone to place in the face of the great rising evil in his story, he chose the small ones. You and I are the small ones, friends. Let’s join hands and stand together. Let’s work together, speak together, sing and whisper and shout together.” —EWK
***
“We have been to the moon, we have charted the depths of the ocean and the heart of the atom, but we have a fear of looking inward to ourselves because we sense that is where all the contradictions flow together.” —Terence McKenna
***
“I am not free while any woman is unfree, even when her shackles are very different from my own.” —Audre Lorde
***
“Don’t operate out of fear, operate out of hope. Because with hope, everything is possible.” —Winona LaDuke
***
Our deepest fears are like dragons
guarding our deepest treasure.
—Rainer Maria Rilke
***
Praise Song
by Barbara Crooker

Praise the light of late November,
the thin sunlight that goes deep in the bones.
Praise the crows chattering in the oak trees;
though they are clothed in night, they do not
despair. Praise what little there’s left:
the small boats of milkweed pods, husks, hulls,
shells, the architecture of trees. Praise the meadow
of dried weeds: yarrow, goldenrod, chicory,
the remains of summer. Praise the blue sky
that hasn’t cracked yet. Praise the sun slipping down
behind the beechnuts, praise the quilt of leaves
that covers the grass: Scarlet Oak, Sweet Gum,
Sugar Maple. Though darkness gathers, praise our crazy
fallen world; it’s all we have, and it’s never enough.
***
“Look at everything
as though you were seeing it
either for the first or last time.
Then your time on earth will be filled with glory.”
—Betty Smith


Gratitude List:
1. Synchronicity
2. Magic
3. The bravado of the Fool
4. The wildness of crows
5. Reminders to be true to myself

May we walk in Beauty!

Gratitudes, Poems

Stargazer

stargazer
Nancy’s stargazer lily will not let you enter the house without Noticing.  She shines in the sun, and her scent grabs you and holds you. I think she likes the backdrop of Nancy’s purple step rail.

Bean Patch Yoga

We will call this asana the suspended downward dog.
Bend at the hips.  Keep your back as straight as you can.
Sweep the bush to the left.
Pick. Breathe. Toss.
To the right.  Pick-breathe-toss.
Shuffle forward, keeping your core muscles tight.
Sweep left-pick-breathe-toss.  Right-pick-breathe-toss.
Shuffle-pick-breathe, shuffle-pick-breathe.
Stop. Drop your arms,
and roll upward slowly,
vertebra by vertebra,
breathing in on a count of eight.
Breathe out and in, slowly, carefully.
Breathe into your back muscles.
Repeat this asana one hundred times.

Gratitude List:
1. Pounding rain
2. Last night, my dreams took me back to Africa and childhood
3. Stargazer lily
4. Synchronicity: In a conversation with a stranger, she spoke of her friendly and caring neighborhood.  Suddenly we were talking about people we know in common.
5. Feathers.  One Small Boy has begun to join me on the daily Noticing of feathers.  “Mom!  Here’s your feather for today!”  Every day.

May we walk in Beauty!

Gratitudes

Onions and Roots

2013 October 108
I know this is garlic and not onions, but the metaphor holds.

Gratitude List:
1. Onions.  All those layers of self to peel through, each crisp paper pulling away as it is shed.
2. Roots.  The roots of the roots.
3. Support.  Again.  There when I need it, from so many corners.
4. Sychronicity.  It has been uncanny in these Advent days how at just the moment that I am experiencing a challenge of some sort, the morning’s spiritual practices are referring to the exact challenge that I am living through.
5. And finally, I think I am ready to say that I am actually grateful for the particular challenges that are currently on my plate.  Likely I have not yet learned from them all that I need to learn, but I think that they are teaching me.  At least I feel myself learning, little by little, how to manage the quick rush of indignation, the wounded wildcat impulse to attack back, the urge to be right, to explain myself. I may not get it the next time, but at least for now, I think I am learning a little.

May we walk in Beauty!

Gratitudes, Poems

Throw Open the Windows

candle

If you wish to find rest here below and hereafter, in all circumstances say, “Who am I?” and do not judge anyone. –Abba Joseph to Abba Poemen

Rattle the bars,
turn the screws loose,
throw off a limitation or two
like veils and garments cast to the wind.
Open the windows and doors,
welcome the wild wind,
escape the cage.

Gratitude List:
1. Synchronicity.  When you begin to look for it, you see it everywhere.
2. Advent.  Something new is coming.
3. Weekends.  Time to rest.
4. Solstice.  Soon, soon, soon the sun returns.
5. Poetry in the hands and brains and hearts of ninth graders.  Brilliant.

May our hearts, our hands, our minds be open to what the day brings.

Gratitudes

Wish for Light

“If you wish for light, be ready to receive light.” ~ Rumi 

Gratitude List:
1. Unfolding
2. Uncertainty, and the way it draws me to trust, faith.  The way it tilts me out of my comfort zone and throws me into a new space.  (Six weeks ago, I would not have imagined being grateful for uncertainty.  That shift, itself, is something I am grateful for.)
3. Bridging
4. Continuing the line, keeping the patterns going, but adding my own lines, my own colors.
5. That thing that happens when you talk to someone and you realize that you’ve both grabbed the same word or idea in the past week or day, that you’re in very similar places of creative shift or idea birthing, that you’re waking up to the same things at the same time.  Synchronicity squared.  A take-off-your-shoes-this-is-holy-ground sort of meeting.  That.

May we walk in Beauty!

Gratitudes

You Are Light!

Gratitude List:
1.  That reminder: You are the light of the world, the salt of the earth.  Be shiny.  Be savory.
2.  The way the snow defines the shape of the mountains so you can see their contours through their fur of trees.
3.  Making it safely home in that incredibly slippery snow.
4.  Synchronicities / miracles / synergy / magic / coincidence / Universal Intention / Divine Attention: So many words for marveling at the way things come together sometimes.
5.  Heat and light and water.

May we walk in Beauty!