Twelvenight: Bag of Dreams

I have absolutely no recollection of dreaming last night. The door between sleeping brain and waking brain is shut tightly. No narratives or images come from that world into this today.

This morning when I looked out the window at 5:35, the darkness was touched by a hint of grey. Dawn is slipping slowly and silently back the clock. Light returns.

The quotation in the image I attached above is from William Butler Yeats’ poem, “Fergus and the Druid.” Fergus the King has relinquished his crown and abdicated his responsibilities as king, and he asks the Druid to teach him knowledge, to give him wisdom. Finally, after a little bit of back-and-forth, the Druid offers Fergus a bag of dreams. Though I put the words with the Fool, the Druid is much more earnest than the Fool, more shamanic, seeking wisdom in all things, pursuing knowledge. The Fool just trusts that the wisdom necessary for the moment will arrive when it comes. The Fool is both younger and older than the Druid, more foolish, and wiser.

Going back to school yesterday meant a different kind of mental focus, put me in more of a Druid zone, seeking knowledge with deep intention. But of course Teacher is an archetype of its own, the one who passes on knowledge and wisdom, seeking it like the Druid, drawing it out of the people themselves, helping them to find it. Druid, Teacher, Queen/King/Ruler, Fool: We are so many people at once, aren’t we?

On a morning when the dream-door is closed, still I carry with me the bag of dreams I have been dreaming. Today, they wrap me round as I go out again, stepping out as the Fool, the Druid, the Teacher, carrying my little bag–of dreams, of wisdom, of story. May your own dreams feed you and wrap you round.


Gratitude List:
1. Pie. Yesterday was pie day in the faculty lounge. One of my colleagues is a masterful pie-maker. Once a year, he brings eight or ten pies for us to sample. It’s the best snack day of the year, and it made yesterday a celebration instead of a foggy slog.
2. My shiny students. Many of them were as tired as I was. So many of them just want to be done with the semester already. Me, too. But there’s joy and hope and community there, too, and for some students, school is the safe place, the belonging place. I am grateful that school can be that haven for those who need it.
3. Yesterday’s chapel speaker. It was mostly a personal introduction for a member of our school community, but he was engaging and lively. He caught students’ attention on the first day back from break. He made us laugh, he made us think.
4. Resolutions and intentions. I know all the reasons to be cynical about New Year’s Resolutions, but here’s the thing. New Year’s Day can be like the moon, and I can use the gravity of this day to help boost my energy as I create an intention. I have been wanting to maintain a higher daily step-count, but I sometimes I need the extra artificial push of a New Year’s Resolution or an outside challenge to motivate me. Here’s to the attempt!
5. Dawn is inching back the clock. Day is slowly lengthening.

May we walk in Beauty!

March for Their Lives


Tomorrow, in Washington, DC and all across the country, students–youth and children–will be marching for their lives, asking the adults in this country to do something to keep them safe in their schools. That’s what they’re asking: to be safe in their schools. They’re demanding that we adults find the will and the courage to keep them safe when they gather together to learn.

As an English teacher, one of my primary life goals is to offer students the skills and tools and opportunities to find their voices and to speak their truths. My heart is filled to overflowing as I listen to the young people of today articulate their ideas with clarity and force and determination.

I urge you to join them, to join us, to say Enough is Enough, Not One More, Keep Them Safe. To amplify their strong and powerful voices.

Gratitude List:
(for the students)
1. Their voices
2. Their determination
3. Their courage
4. Their leadership
5. Their playfulness

May we walk with them in Beauty!

Everything is Sacred

The Goblin Rumpus began at exactly 2:48 AM with a sweet falsetto yawp from Little Thor. I went out into the hall to see what was happening, and about a dozen cats were zooming through the halls, bouncing off the walls, skittering down the stairs. My daytime brain knows that there are only two cats in the house. My nighttime brain knows that there were at least a dozen cats performing the Goblin Rumpus–a couple of them were indigo gray with shining golden eyes, and the others were orange blurs.


Today I am turning fifty. Growing up. I’ve completed a half-century here.

If you follow the numerological significances of things, five is the number of the hierophant or teacher, and zero is the number of the fool.  Doing a little wizardry with the numbers of my birthday and birth year, my birth number reduces to 5, so it appears that I am coming into my own this year, and carrying the madcap, free-spirited nature of the fool with me. This is the year to focus on my work as teacher and fool. I’ll take it!


I feel like this is my birthday poem:
“The Seven of Pentacles”
by Marge Piercy

Under a sky the color of pea soup
she is looking at her work growing away there
actively, thickly like grapevines or pole beans
as things grow in the real world, slowly enough.
If you tend them properly, if you mulch, if you water,
if you provide birds that eat insects a home and winter food,
if the sun shines and you pick off caterpillars,
if the praying mantis comes and the lady bugs and the bees,
then the plants flourish, but at their own internal clock.

Connections are made slowly, sometimes they grow underground.
You cannot tell always by looking what is happening.
More than half a tree is spread out in the soil under your feet.
Penetrate quietly as the earthworm that blows no trumpet.
Fight persistently as the creeper that brings down the tree.
Spread like the squash plant that overruns the garden.
Gnaw in the dark and use the sun to make sugar.

Weave real connections, create real nodes, build real houses.
Live a life you can endure: make love that is loving.
Keep tangling and interweaving and taking more in,
a thicket and bramble wilderness to the outside but to us
interconnected with rabbit runs and burrows and lairs.

Live as if you liked yourself, and it may happen:
reach out, keep reaching out, keep bringing in.
This is how we are going to live for a long time: not always,
for every gardener knows that after the digging, after the planting,
after the long season of tending and growth, the harvest comes.
*
“In these cataclysmic times, living in what Michael Meade calls the ‘slow apocalypse,’ despair can be dangerously seductive. Our lives may feel inadequate to the terrible momentum of our times, but it is in those moments that we must remember the difference between despair and grief.
While despair traps us in the bog of despondency, grief carries us into life. Grief calls us into a deeper engagement with those things that we love. And even as we are losing them, grief wants to exalt their beauty.

“If we let grief move us into expression, it will sing the blood into our songs, colour the vividness into our paintings, and slip the poetry between our words.

“Rumi says, “All medicine wants is pain to cure.” And so we must cry out in our weakness, our ineptitude, our beautiful inadequacy and make of it an invitation that medicine might reach through and towards us.” Toko-pa Turner
*
“I have always been spiritually promiscuous, lying down with any God who will have me. When I drop down into these ancient texts, I feel the breath of the God of Love on my face. It makes me crazy. In the very best way.” —Mirabai Starr
*
“By virtue of the Creation and, still more, of the Incarnation, nothing here below is profane for those who know how to see. On the contrary, everything is sacred.” —Teilhard de Chardin
*
“A library is infinity under a roof.”  —Gail Carson Levine


Gratitude List:
1. Fifty mostly satisfying years on this Earth.
2. Okay, even if I am working on less sleep today, the delightful thrill of a springy little cat walking begging for attention in the night–walking all over me, bringing me his new favorite toy, purring and snuggling.
3. Goldfinches: how they fly, how they twitter. Their purpose is joy.
4. Everything is Sacred, indeed. Grateful for the words of Teilhard de Chardin
5. The promise of a massage sometime in the next few months when I really need it. My guys gave me a gift certificate for a friend who is starting up her own business. Win-win! I love it!

May we walk in Beauty!

Deadnettle


This one is perhaps too didactic, too prosey. I think I’ll try again to do another poem about the deadnettle as the teacher. This will stand for today, however.

The Fool stands long and silently
upon the flagstones before knocking.
She raises her hand to the knocker
and listens, as though afraid to fill
the vast and thoughtful silence.

Before she can raise the iron ring,
the door opens quietly inward.
An ancient one stands within,
welcoming the Fool with a gesture
and eyes that bid her enter.

Settling on the parlor couch
which the Teacher prepares tea,
the Fool spreads her belongings:
a notebook, a fuzzy pink hat,
and a book of angry poems.

“I need you to teach me how
to start a revolution,” she begs.
The old one raises a bushy eyebrow
and turns to the window,
gesturing out to a spring field,
purple with deadnettle, henbit,
and Gill-over-the-ground.

“There,” says the old one,
“is your revolution. Bloom.
Be medicine, for the earth
and medicine for the people.
Draw out the toxins from your soil.
Spread beauty, and beauty will spread.
Though you know you are for the plow,
bloom anyway, and prepare
to nourish the soil when you go under.”

TOMORROW’S PROMPT:
Tomorrow the Fool encounters the balance of the Lovers. Animus and Anima find each other and sense the ideal of their union. The secret inner self makes itself known, and she finds that what she has been running from is what she has been most longing for. Desire, attraction, the aching need to belong, to be understood, to be complete–all belong to the realm of the Lovers. Tomorrow, the Fool encounters the Lovers.

Gratitude List:
1. Another osprey, this morning.
2. Green
3. Weekend
4. Watching Babe with the kids.
5. A traveling day tomorrow.

May we walk in Beauty!

Let Us Waft. Let Us Be Wanton.


Message from the Empress

by Beth Weaver-Kreider

In the orchard over the ridge
the trees have broken into a riot of pink,
lascivious against the rain-wet grass beneath.

Let us riot too.
Let us spread
our blooming fingers to the sky,
opening our mouths and our hearts,
meeting destruction with bloom,
with green, with simple beauty,
with overpowering fragrance.

Let us waft.
Let us be wanton.

TOMORROW’S PROMPT
The Fool still has more mentors to meet. Tomorrow she encounters the Teacher, or Hierophant. Teachers who know their jobs are compassionate facilitators of learning, nurturing the curiosity of their students, drawing out their students’ own ideas and perspectives, providing spaces for the Aha! Teachers who don’t know their jobs are judgey and demanding, offering shame and guilt instead of encouraging a desire to learn for learning’s sake. Unlike the High Priestess who guards the Mysteries from those who are not prepared to learn (until they are ready), the Teacher entices the seekers into the realm of Knowledge.

Gratitude List:
1. I still can’t quite believe last night’s spectacle. It was heart-pounding and nerve-wracking, but I am grateful I got to see it. While I was watching Ellis’s baseball practice, I heard a screeching in the sky–a bald eagle was chasing an osprey. It went after it for quite a while before it gave up the chase.
2. Turkey feather
3. Mama goose so persistent on her nest despite the storms
4. I love being part of a school where the culture is one of giving to the community and to the world. Students WANT to get involved in projects to help out other humans.  I love these young people.
5. Tomorrow is an easy-plan day. I need a light day.

May we walk in Beauty!

Gratitude and Praise

Gratitude List:
1. The first school events for the year are happening today.  First is a computer system training, and I always feel like I can use more training on the computer details.  And it will be delightful to see colleagues again.  In the evening is the New Student Orientation.  I’ll be sorry to miss my own children’s back-to-school night, but I’m really excited to get the room looking welcoming and friendly, and then to start meeting some of my new students and their parents.
2. Richard Rohr’s Mystics series.  I have always been drawing to the writings of the mystics, to their poetry, to the stories of their lives, but it’s only recently, in this series, that I feel as though I am beginning to understand a little of what a contemplative life might look like.
3. The Village that is helping us to raise our children: grandparents, aunts and uncles and cousins, friends, farm community, and teachers.  Tonight they will meet the teachers who will be with them through this year.  I am trying to get in touch with the anxiety I feel on behalf of my children: Will the teachers like them?  Will they be kind?  Will they understand my kids’ quirks?  Will they laugh with them?  This is one of those turn-around moments: So often, I think in terms of being the teacher that my students need; today, I commit to considering how I can be the teacher that mu students’ parents need me to be for their beloved young people.
4. Old friends and new ones.  I love you all.
5. The hunger, the ache, the longing for Beauty.

May we walk in Beauty!

Here is the second of the Psalms that I am writing for this series at my church.  One of my favorite ways to write poetry is to have an idea that burns in me, and then to suggest to that idea that it has a particular pathway to follow in order to come outside to play, and this project has three.  The parameters of this project are that the poems are: 1) They’re to be Psalms (I am free to interpret that as I choose–I am trying to make the language Psalm-like), 2) They each have a theme (desire, laments, praise, thanksgiving. . .), 3) They fit the Confessional moment in the church service.  Last August I was writing a short poem a day for a postcard project.  I didn’t do that one this year, but I am really grateful for this one: I am discovering that even when life is really busy, having a specific poetic task in the back of my head helps to frame the contemplative work of a season.

Psalm: Praise
10 August 2015

Yours is the music that enters our hearts.
Delight of you enlivens our voices to join in the song.
We are born to worship our Maker.

The world is awash in color and music;
your works are enkindled in sparkle and dazzle.
Every bright bird, each flashing star,
the chirp of the cricket and drone of cicada,
roaring waterfall, quivering leaf–
all of creation sings your glory.

We have only to look up and outward,
and wonder will fill our mouths with praise.

Yet daily our hands reach out
for wealth and power and fame,
instead of rising to praise you.

Our eyes are set on the glitter and shine
of all the distractions that we have made,
and not on your grace and your beauty.

Our voices turn to bitter complaint,
to quarrels and bluster and grumbling,
instead of joining creation’s constant hymn
of praise to the Creator.

O God of wonder and beauty and grace,
open the eyes of our hearts,
awaken our senses to all you have made,
that our spirits may rise in wonder,
that our voices may open in song,
that our days may be filled with praise.

Questions

You say you don’t believe the stories the moon was telling
last night as she rose among the sparkling stars
over the rim of your feather pillow?
You say you’ve forgotten the song she sang,
the way her voice wrapped your heart
in a blanket made of spider silk?
You say you never find yourself lost and alone
and deliriously satisfied in the meadows of a dream?

Surely you have heard the singing when the rainbow arcs the sky?
Surely you have seen the pattern of the swallows’ dance above you?
Surely you can’t have missed the feel of the moon’s fingers
as she caresses your forehead on a summer night?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Friends, I am on the cusp of a big change, standing at the very edge of the cliff now, remembering that I have wings, but not sure that I am ready to fly.  Oh, I know the wind will catch me, and I know all will be well, but it is right and proper, I suppose, for butterflies to fill the belly in the moments before the leap.

Today is my last Friday of farm harvest for the summer.  While I will continue to fill in the cracks as I am able, Tuesday will essentially be the day I take off the farmer’s hat and put on the teacher’s hat.

I am going to try to continue to be present here on the blog through the changes, to continue to write gratitude lists, and hopefully poems, too.  But the space may get a little dusty and cobwebby from time to time as I work to figure out how my new morning schedule works, and where I can carve out writing time in my new world.

Gratitude List:
1. The morning’s rosy sky
2. Creative community: currently, this postcard project, and how one word or phrase or idea on a postcard I receive becomes the thread I grab for the next two or three poems.
3. Wings.  The fierce feeling of the wind in the eyes in the moments before leaping.
4. Last night the hamster cage was left open.  I am grateful that Jon found Afil before Fred the Cat did.
5. Shuffling.  How the pieces can fit together in many different ways.  Sometimes I get afraid to shift things around for fear I’ll set the whole thing crumbling, but new patterns begin to emerge instead, new ways of making it all work.

May we walk in Beauty!