NPM Day 30: Doors

Student poetry on my white board. Both poems are apt messages for standing in the doorway to May.

Today is the last day of Poetry Prompts for April. I might take a break from the blog for a few days when this is done.

Today, as we stand in the doorway to May, write a poem about doorways and doors. Doors can be portals from one world to another, the symbol of the step of faith we take from one stage to the next. Doors can also be symbolic of the space between ourselves and others. What doors keep us apart or invite us in? Or write about the doors of your town.

Doorways are about liminal spaces. Write about thresholds, about standing poised between one thing and the next. What holds you in the past? What pushes you into the future? What are the spiritual lessons you learn from standing in the in-between? Or write about the doorway to another world.

Who or what is on the other side of that door?

Today is May Day Eve, one of those special moments in the solar calendar, situated between Spring Equinox and Summer Solstice. We’ve watched the riot of spring creeping over the gardens and fields, delighted in the shining colors of flowers and the tender greening of leaves, paid attention to what is hatching within us.

May Day, or Beltane, is about celebrating the freedom from that egg, about jumping into the green of the season, feet first, taking risks, whooping with joy. Dust off your wild barbaric yawp. Wanton is the word of this season. We’re stripping off the constricting cloaks and coats and scarves of winter, and running through the fields, barefoot and maybe naked (some of us keep that purely in the realm of metaphor).

What do you need to release and let go of in this season? What are the names of the items of clothing you drop in your wake as you run to the fields? What is the name of the green field before you, the thing you give yourself to with every ounce of your passion?

As we enter the season of Beltane, consider all that has kept you from living fully and joyfully and passionately into your purpose. Name the habits and boxes and dogmas that keep you from living in the world with you Whole Heart. Drop them. And run for the fields.

Gratitude List:
1. That phoebe, calling his name into the dawn.
2. The oriole who called from the sycamore trees yesterday as we left school.
3. Although I was disappointed that opening night of the school play was cancelled because of the rain, our whole family needed the rest of being cozy together in our house last evening.
4. Living by the seasons means that every year has its reminders and rituals of letting go, paying attention, living fully, resting, growing. On the threshold of May, I commit to ditching the constricting habits that keep me from living joyfully.
5. The dawn keeps coming earlier and the twilight comes later, even when the day is cloudy and grey.

May we walk in Beauty!

“Things aren’t so tangible and sayable as people would have us believe; most experiences are unsayable, they happen in a space that no word has ever entered, and more unsayable than all other things are world of art, those mysterious existences, whose life endures beside our own small, transitory life.” —Rainer Maria Rilke

“We don’t think ourselves into a new way of living. We live ourselves into t anew way of thinking.” —Richard Rohr

“To create one’s world in any of the arts takes courage.” —Georgia O’Keeffe

“Hope is not a lottery ticket you can sit on the sofa and clutch, feeling lucky. It is an axe you break down doors with in an emergency. Hope should shove you out the door, because it will take everything you have to steer the future away from endless war, from the annihilation of the earth’s treasures and the grinding down of the poor and marginal… To hope is to give yourself to the future – and that commitment to the future is what makes the present inhabitable.” ―Rebecca Solnit

“The child’s hand
Folding these wings
Wins no wars and ends them all. “
―Thomas Merton


When I dream of beaches, as I did last night, there is often a small mountain or cliff rising out of the ocean 50 or a hundred yards offshore which creates a small lagoon in the shallows between it and the beach.  It’s not usually connected to the mainland–it’s its own formation rising out of the water, sort of like Haystack Rock in Oregon, but the shape and size change from dream to dream.  Last night there was a resort built out over the water right up against it, and my mother and I were searching for a rare red hawk that was known to nest on the cliffs.

I have a city dream, too, and the city is often the same one.  How is it in dreams that the fantastical is so recognizable?  Yes, I know, Mr. Jung.  These are the symbols of the things that happen deep in my subconscious all through the day, so of course I would recognize that those two vastly different places are part of the same city.  Or that the labyrinthine series of rooms and staircases in another recurring dream are all part of my grandmother’s old rambling Victorian house.

There are those school dreams, where I am always late and running ragged through unfamiliar halls and stairways to find a class I might or might not have even signed up for.  But there’s another school, too, a boarding school, deeper in my psyche, I think.  Those school dreams are not about time and responsibility, but about finding people I might know.  They come to me in clusters, like the anxiety school dreams–none for years, and then several in a month.  They don’t feel anxious, though.  More curious.  They seem to be about loneliness and anticipation in equal measure.

There’s a German word, fernweh, that expresses the state of being homesick for a place where you have never been.  Somehow I think it’s connected to these familiar/unfamiliar landscapes in my dreams.  That dis-ease, that sense of unsettledness and longing, grabs me in these dreams of place.  I want to be back there in that place, wandering and exploring, even though the place is nowhere (no physical where) that I have been in my waking life.  Or maybe something in me longs to be back in those half-familiar, half-confusing places of childhood: the boarding school where I went in first grade, the old house we came to when we came to the US from Tanzania, the American schools with their confusing wings and hallways, the family trips to Mombasa or the New Jersey shore.

These places rise out of liminal times from my childhood, threshold spaces where I stood between one place and another, between home and school, between East Africa and the US.  Perhaps that is why the beach dreams are so compelling, poised as they are between land and sea, with cliffs rising high out of the water.  Change, with its odd mix of anxiety and anticipation, is inevitable, and in the midst of shift and transformation, the familiar/unfamiliar places return in dreams, offering a picture of the shift that is occurring.


Gratitude List:
1. Dream worlds
2. The way sunlight slants down the hill in the chill mornings
3. The manager at the bank yesterday who helped Ellis set up a savings account.  She took him seriously, asked him questions, complimented him gently without talking down to him.
4. Lunch Bunch day–both kids at school until mid-afternoon!
5. Preparations, plans and anticipation.

May we walk in Beauty!

Nine Stones and a Gratitude List

Nine Stones

I gathered nine white stones when I went
to the sea, that windy threshold where sky meets
water meets land, and all is transmuted
by the fire of the sun.  Nine stones.

One for each of the dogwood trees,
gracious guardians at the entrance
to our own threshold.

One for the toad to grasp
as she sits in contemplation
under the litter of leaves.

One to place
between the clasped hands
of the lovers in their whirling dance.

One to rest at the bee-door
to guide them home from honeying.

One for wildness and courage,
to be the lion’s heart,
the spirit of the wood.

One for the wren
whose story overflows
and trickles over house and fields.

One to place at the cave’s door,
to carry as we walk within.

And one for the falcon
to clutch in her claws,
when she stands in the sky
and sees that singular task
among all that lies in the fields.


Gratitude List:
1.  Insomniac child finally fell asleep again at 4.  I counted backward from 100 for him.  Need to remember that one.
2.  Tannenbaum so lovely and the magic of nostalgia for small children: “I remember this ornament!”
3.  Loving cat who licks my ears and tickles my chin.
4.  Advent.  Waiting for the light.  Hush.  Stillness.
5.  Mist.