Invitation

I get to choose from three possible thumbnails. What it they’re ALL goofy?

Mary Oliver quotes the German poet Rainer Maria Rilke in her poem “Invitation.”

“You must change your life,” says Rilke.

And here is our invitation, in the middle of this muddle of Exile and Isolation and Distancing: Change Your Life. To a very large degree, it has been wrenched out of our own hands. My life has changed, whether I wanted it to or not. Out of my control.

So how can I take up this invitation, and take the pen in my own hands, the yarn, the paintbrush? How can I pick up the reins of my story and change my own life in this time?

In the two weeks since I have been home, I keep saying, every day, that I am going to get control of this wild horse of school work that will take up every inch of space in my day if I let it. And it’s been a comfort to know that I have something to do that is contributing, in some way, to the continuing work of the world in a time of shut-down. Still, I need to make my balance.

This is the first way that I will change my life. I will figure this out–that spaces between Work and Not-work.

How will you accept Rilke’s invitation?


Gratitude List:
1. Mary Oliver and Rainer Maria Rilke and the invitation to change my life.
2. Fridays are catch-up days. In school, there are Study Halls, and classes are sometimes work periods. There are spaces in the days for catch-up. Somehow, at home, it all runs together, and students and teachers can get a little breathless. Many students are being called in to work extra hours at their essential jobs, and these jobs are helping to support families in a time of uncertainty. Others are struggling with the fear and anxiety and overwhelm of the new normal. So Fridays, while still school days, are days to take a little breath, to have meetings with non-class groups, to regroup in preparation for the coming week. Breathe in. Breathe out.
3. The phoebe perched on the birdfeeder station for a moment, then flitted off.
4. I’m going to bake rolls today. Grateful for yeast and flour and work that teaches me patience.
5. Wild purple hyacinths. We always called them bluebells, and that’s how I think of them.

Take care of each other!


“We get over things. It is the most amazing faculty that we possess. War or pestilence; drought or famine; fire or flood; it does not matter. However devastating the catastrophe, however frightful the slaughter, however total the eclipse, we surmount our sorrows and find ourselves still smiling when the storm is overpast. . . . Nature heals her wounds with loveliness. She gets over things.” —Frank W. Boreham


“I believe a huge part of our collective feeling of emptiness comes from living in this self-centred phase of our evolution as a species, where everything begins with I. I want this object, I want to succeed. I want to improve myself. Even: I want to belong.

But true happiness depends upon our reciprocity with the environment in which we are embedded, and unto which we are indebted. In the same way that mitochondria work to break down nutrients and turn it into energy for our bodies, we too are but a single component of a greater biosphere that sees no hierarchy between ferns and redwoods, worms and eagles.

If we imagine an invisible mycelial network under the visible surface of things, of which we are but fruiting bodies, then we see how our lives should be in service to feeding the whole forest together. Our negligence of that reciprocity is, more than any other factor, what fosters unbelonging.” —Toko-pa Turner


“We are here to awaken from the illusion of separateness.” —Thich Nhat Hanh


“We must learn to respond not to this or that syllable, but to the whole song.” —Thomas Merton


“For still there are so many things
That I have never seen
In every wood in every spring
There is a different green” —J.R.R.Tolkien


“We’re all just walking each other home.” —Ram Das


“I am an instrument in the shape
of a woman trying to translate pulsations
into images for the relief of the body
and the reconstruction of the mind.”
—Adrienne Rich


Spring has returned. The Earth is like a child that knows poems.
—Rainer Maria Rilke

Cats in the Classroom

My classroom has cats. I think Sachs would approve of the look this filter gave him.
Because this is how we live now.

Gratitude List:
1. Slowly, but surely, I am catching up on some of my pre-Friday-the-13th work. It has been really difficult to adjust schedules and plans to fit online learning. I’m beginning to carve out spaces for big grading in the midst of the daily tasks.
2. Maybe it’s the fat coffee (cream and butter, coconut oil and protein powder), or maybe it’s the new schedule, but I realized yesterday that I don’t feel run down and exhausted anymore. Even though I am working almost all the time, I feel charged and up to the tasks of my day.
3. From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. Josiah and I finished that one yesterday, and I love the reminder that the real adventure is the one that takes you inside yourself. That adventure is always available.
4. Goldfinches. They’re going to show up a lot on here because they’re my constant visual companions right now, and getting shinier by the day. I live on Goldfinch Farm, and we named it that for a reason, and in these challenging days, that reason has become one of my grounding delights.
5. Yesterday I saw the phoebe! Sitting on a branch above the bluff, dipping her tail. I have been hearing them, but there’s something about catching that glimpse. . .

Take care of each other!


“Let us keep courage and try to be patient and gentle. And let us not mind being eccentric, and make distinction between good and evil.” —Vincent van Gogh


“Age is foolish and forgetful when it underestimates youth.” —Albus Dumbledore


Love the earth and sun and the animals,
despise riches, give alms to everyone that asks,
stand up for the stupid and crazy,
devote your income and labor to others,
hate tyrants, argue not concerning God,
have patience and indulgence toward the people,
take off your hat to nothing known or unknown,
or to any man or number of men,
go freely with powerful uneducated persons,
and with the young, and with the mothers or families,
re-examine all you have been told in school or church or in any book,
and dismiss whatever insults your own soul;
and your very flesh shall be a great poem.
—Walt Whitman, from the Preface to Leaves of Grass


THE OLD WISDOM

When the night wind makes the pine trees creak
And the pale clouds glide across the dark sky,
Go out my child, go out and seek
Your soul: The Eternal I.
For all the grasses rustling at your feet
And every flaming star that glitters high
Above you, close up and meet
In you: The Eternal I.
Yes, my child, go out into the world; walk slow
And silent, comprehending all, and by and by
Your soul, the Universe, will know
Itself: the Eternal I.
—Jane Goodall


“If you believe peace is the absence of war, you’ve missed the mark. There will never be full peace until we treat each other the way we want to be treated. Peace is allowing an individual or group of people to command their space in the way they know how without the violent intervention from another.” —Leymah Gbowee