Time Is a Tangle

Gratitude List:
1. The way that talking about it, writing about it, makes it more bearable. It doesn’t go away. It just looms less.
2. Poems I wrote last year and other years are popping up today to help me through the challenges of today. Time’s a circle. Time’s a loop. Time’s a weird tangle of threads.
3. That goldfinch singing on the top of the bird feeder is so bright in the morning sunshine it almost hurts my eyes.
4. And. . .the blue, the blue, the blue: wild hyacinths, violets, gill-on-the-grass.
5. You, finding your groundedness out there, and me finding my roots here. Usually, I think of the world in webs. Today, I think of mycelium, and I know that as surely as the trees in the bosque across our road are communicating through a mysterious underground network of fungi, that you and I, as we find our roots, are also mysteriously and powerfully communicating, and holding things together.

Take care of your roots. May we walk in Beauty!


“Our task is to take this earth so deeply and wholly into ourselves that it will resurrect within our being.” —Rainer Maria Rilke


“We have no symbolic life, and we are all badly in need of the symbolic life. Only the symbolic life can express the need of the soul – the daily need of the soul, mind you! And because people have no such thing, they can never step out of this mill – this awful, banal, grinding life in which they are “nothing but.” —C. G. Jung


Listen
by Shel Silverstein

Listen to the MUSTN’TS, child,
Listen to the DON’TS
Listen to the SHOULDN’TS,
the IMPOSSIBLES, the WON’TS
Listen to the NEVER HAVES,
Then listen close to me-
Anything can happen, child,
Anything can be.


If you are a dreamer
by Shel Silverstein

If you are a dreamer, come in,
If you are a dreamer, a wisher, a liar,
A hope-er, a pray-er, a magic bean buyer…
If you’re a pretender, come sit by my fire
For we have some flax-golden tales to spin.
Come in!
Come in!


“It doesn’t have to be
the blue iris, it could be
weeds in a vacant lot, or a few
small stones; just
pay attention, then patch

a few words together and don’t try
to make them elaborate, this isn’t
a contest but the doorway

into thanks, and a silence in which
another voice may speak.”
—Mary Oliver


“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.” —Once-ler, in Dr. Seuss’s The Lorax


“No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.” ―Nelson Mandela

The Color of My Joy

Perhaps I have said this before: I don’t get very sick very often. I often live with feeling tired and run-down, but I think my general immunity is pretty strong. I am not particularly worried about the virus for myself or my family. But my parents and many of my Beloveds are in the age range where the danger rises. And many of my students have immune issues of their own. I have committed myself to wash my hands as frequently as possible, to use hand sanitizer, to greet people without touching, to minimizing the possibilities that I could pass the virus on unawares. You too? Let’s do our part to stop the spread.

Gratitude List:
1. Parent Teacher Conferences. It breaks the rhythm, and enlivens the two days, and I love to talk to the parents of my kids about my kids. Over the years, I have had my share of really difficult and challenging conferences, but mostly it’s just a really nice chance for two groups of people to talk about someone they mutually love.
2. Because of conferences, I have a couple extra hours in my classroom today during which I will begin to tidy and organize for The Big Move (we’re moving out of our rooms at the end of the year for summertime renovations).
3. I’m feeling satisfied right now. It might be that deep river of joy, or it might be resting in the inevitability of seasons and changes and things staying the same, but it feels like satisfaction. Simple and comfortable satisfaction. Let’s call it the current color of my joy. This doesn’t mean that I don’t have flare-ups of rage and anxiety about politics and coronavirus and getting the work done. It’s something deeper than the flares, though.
4. I’ve gone back to fat in my morning coffee: butter, cream, and coconut oil. I think it revs me up a bit in the morning, and I feel more ready to get into the day, less in a fog. Plus, it tastes like a gourmet treat.
5. Health care workers. Place of honor on my gratitude list today. And also a plea for blessing their health as they stand on the front lines of a world crisis. A thousand blessings on all who are caring for those who are sick.

May we walk in Beauty!


“Until you can discover and delight in the souls of other things, even trees and animals, I doubt you can discover your own soul.” —Richard Rohr


“Magic is a relationship forged in the ordinary. It is our endurance through the unknown, unyielding times. It is faith in the as yet unmanifest. It is the invocation of the large, but while praising the small. Magic is the redoubling of our vow when disappointment befalls us, a shoulder to the wheel of our intent.” —Toko-pa Turner


Quotidian Mysteries:
“Change the burned-out lightbulb. Water the plants. Take your vitamins. Wash the dishes. Bow down to the Great Mystery. Take out the garbage.”
—Rob Brezsny


“It is often said that before you die your life passes before your eyes. It is in fact true. It’s called living.”
―Terry Pratchett


“A Word that Breathes Distinctly
Has not the Power to Die”
―Emily Dickinson


“For me, I am driven by two main philosophies: Know more about the world than I knew yesterday, and lessen the suffering of others. You’d be surprised how far that gets you.” —Neil DeGrasse Tyson


So every day
I was surrounded by the beautiful crying forth
of the ideas of God,

one of which was you.
―Mary Oliver

No Cure for Curiosity


Daily Feather.

“You’ve seen my descent. Now watch my rising.” –Rumi
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“If I have something that is too difficult for adults to swallow, I will write it in a book for children.” –Madeline L’Engle
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“Every day I remind myself that my inner and outer life are based on the labors of other people, living and dead, and that I must exert myself in order to give in the same measure as I have received and am still receiving.” – Albert Einstein
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“The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity.” –perhaps Dorothy Parker
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“My country is the world, and my religion is to do good.” –Thomas Paine
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“Once in a lifetime the longed for tidal wave of justice can rise up, and hope and history rhyme.” – Seamus Heaney


Gratitude List:
1. Sleep is healing, and I got lots yesterday and last night. Cold, be gone!
2. Did I mention those fields of sunflowers? I might do it every day for a while. How those golden faces turn toward sunrise.
3. My colleagues. What a team of earnest, compassionate, gentle people, all focused on building up and supporting our teenagers.
4. My kids’ teachers.
5. Homemade pizza

May we walk in Beauty!

Situated in Time and Place


If you look really closely, there’s a message hidden in there.

I am re-posting this piece I wrote last year on this day. Reminding myself how the gratitude practice keeps me centered:

Working with gratitude helps me to situate myself in time and place.

During these times of reflection, I am often hyper-aware of being here in this moment, right here, where I listen to the birdnews of the moment, the sounds of the day waking up, the thumps and bumbles of the smallfolk upstairs waking up.

This moment, where I look around to see the way the sun leans in or yawns behind grey haze.
This moment when I sit in expectation of the bright yellow falling leaf, the flash of birdwing across my window, the way sun sparkles on spiderweb.
This moment, in which yesterday’s movement is written in the aches and quirks of my muscles, the curve of my spine.

From the anchor of this moment, reflecting on the list takes me backward and elsewhere, to the color and shape of yesterday, to the shining white pebbles of moments past. I can pick them up and examine them, say, this one and I remember. I can watch how those pebbles are spun into golden strands sustained over time: The presence of a tiny impossible bird in this span of days. The season of the tang of tomato and the sweetness of basil. The long lazy days spent with the exploring feet and minds of my children.

The dailiness of the list also takes me forward into time. This has become my homework, the job I carry with me into each day. It is one of the anchoring ropes which I hold as I step into uncertain future, feeling my way in the grey mist as I go. Stepping forward with the search for gratitude on the agenda means I must go with an open heart, an open mind, searching not only for things, for items to check off my list, but for connections. It means walking into the future as into a puzzle, looking for five pieces of the coming day that will help me to shape the meaning of the picture that surrounds me.

I have been wondering lately at how this has become a habit, how I feel anxious and unmoored if I miss my daily list. For years, it was a thing I would do on occasion, as the mood hit, but in the past several months, it has become a deeper spiritual practice. I shift it from time to time, asking myself questions, or writing the list as a poem. Still, instead of becoming boring or tedious, it has become ever more a place where I can talk to myself, remind myself who I am, where I am, what I am doing here.


Nigerian writer Ben Okri: “Beware of the stories you read or tell; subtly, at night, beneath the waters of consciousness, they are altering your world.”
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“In the end these things matter most: How well did you love? How fully did you love? How deeply did you learn to let go?” —Siddhartha Gautama
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“The object and goal of all spirituality is finally the same: union, divine love, inner aliveness, soul abundance, generous service to neighbor and the world.” —Richard Rohr
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“Only hour-by-hour gratitude is strong enough to overcome all temptations to resentment.” —Richard Rohr
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From Garrison Keillor: “And it was on this day in 1945 that the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city of Hiroshima, Japan. It was the first time that a nuclear weapon was ever used in warfare, and only the second time that a nuclear weapon had ever been exploded. It was dropped over Hiroshima at 8:15 in the morning. It exploded 1,900 feet above the ground. Capt Robert Lewis watched the explosion from his cockpit and wrote in his journal, ‘My God, what have we done?'”


Gratitude List:
1. The voice of Rhiannon Giddens
2. The words of Wendell Berry
3. The wide world of Georgia O’Keefe
4. The enriching thought of Clarissa Pinkola Estes
5. The activism of Jane Goodall

May we walk in Beauty!

Almost Paradise

almost paradise

What a gift it is to have lifetime friends, people you can sit with and say, “Remember when you said. . .?  Remember what she did. . .?  Remember how he used to always. . .?”

People you can look in the eye and see not only a reflection of who you are in this moment, but also a reflection of who you have been–a year ago, five, ten, twenty.

People who know too much about you, who remember you before you settled adulthood’s masks into place, and they still love you, love you more for who you’ve been and who you’ve become.

People you can look at and see the butterfly of the now, but in whom can you identify the caterpillar of the past–and you love the butterfly, and the caterpillar, too.

People who know just which questions to ask.

People who help you live in this moment–with their laughter, their thoughtful eyes, their conversation.  People who draw you into the realm of memory.  People who help you envision the future.  People who help you to live in all those layers at once.

Gratitude List:
1. Living in those layers of time (past, present, future) with people I love and trust
2. People who know my warts and rough edges and love me anyway
3. The way the next generation at reunions also gathers with ease and comfort, enjoying each other
4. Peaches and ice cream
5. Crisp, cool mornings

May we walk in Beauty!

Layers of Time

Making hay on the old farm
(Old Slabaugh Family Photo.  I’ll need to ask around to find out who they are.)

Layers of Time

Sit in this bubble
of now, and settle yourself
into the moment.
The past will wash over you,
and the future will rush in.

Gratitude List:
1. Were I on our custodial staff, I would hate it, so I feel a little sheepish saying this, but I love the way the leaves leaves track all over the floor at school on rainy days.  It’s like the trees are trying to come inside.
2. Our long-suffering and hard-working custodial staff.
3. One of my Chinese students made sushi for Advisory Group snack yesterday.  That was delicious.
4. Problem-solving.  Puzzles.  Conundrums.
5. Restorative Justice.  What if our schools and communities would start offering classes and workshops and trainings in restorative justice, in creatively addressing conflict rather than escalating it?  What if all prospective security guards and police officers were required to log 50 hours of restorative justice training (and anti-racism training) before they entered their jobs?

Blessings on your Beautiful Day!

The Room of this Moment

all this running
between one moment
and the next

from the room of this minute
into the room of the one to come
we scuttle and race

trailing the detritus
of our days like the stuff
falling from a half-open suitcase

appointments and obligations
litter the ground behind us
and we are gasping
grasping for the next

take a breath
sit down
on the floor of the room
of this moment in time

watch how the minutes flow over you
when you release your grasp
on the one ahead

watch how the space of this room
takes shape around you

watch how your breath
blooms into the air

 

Gratitude List:
1. Well-written popular history: Bill Bryson’s At Home, for example, which I am listening to in the car these days–a history of the house.  It has everything: agriculture, architecture, social classes, semantics and etymology.
2. Yesterday was Taking Care of Me Day.  I didn’t get a lot of work done, but I got my eyes checked and my hair done.
3. Sleep is appearing frequently on my list these days, and I am putting it down again.  I have had at least three or four 8+-hour nights lately (with minor interruptions from the cat).  It doesn’t always work, but I have found that when I can have a creative art project on the back burner of my mind during the day, I can pull it out and plan it during those moments of panic when I wake up and am suddenly panicky that I won’t get back to sleep.  Something about imagining artistic processes lulls my brain.
4. I have a love-hate relationship with this pedometer, but it’s really getting me moving.  Whoever devised this step-counting contest at school was a genius.  I have been the lowest number on my team for the first two weeks, and I am determined not to let them all down, so I stand and step in place during evening activities these days.  We play Uno a lot during these winter evenings, and I step my way through the games.  This morning my legs actually ache from all that stepping yesterday.  I hope it makes me healthier in the long run.  It is at least keeping me from being quite so sedentary.
5. Dawn.  Black tree silhouettes against newborn light.

May we walk in Beauty!

Hold the Moment

I had intended today’s poem to be a children’s poem.  It’s coming out more like a poem for my children.

I want to snag your memories,
to hold your busy brains and say,
“This.  This is one to hold on to.
Here.  Don’t ever let this moment go.”

Remember that day
when you first sat
in the butterfly swing
up on the hill?
I pushed you
so high
you thought you were flying
above the house
into the clouds.

Remember when we went sledding
down the barn hill
on little plastic sleds
over a bare sprinkle of snow?
“Oh, yay for sledding day!”
you hollered
as you danced
back up the hill
through the powder.

Remember the day
we went to pick up the chicks
and I saw you suddenly change
from one who is cared for
to one who cares for others?
You held the soft down
up to your cheek
and your eyes shone
with the mystery of
sudden love
for the small ones.

Remember when
you first began to read?
How you said,
“You read this one,
please,” but
you couldn’t resist
reading aloud with me
at the good parts.

Our days are constant and comfortable.
The stream of life carries us
moment to moment,
and it would spoil it,
I suppose, to try to grasp it all,
to hold onto every shining treasure.

Oh, but I want to hook these few,
hold them to me like warm quilts
carefully crafted by the grandmothers,
and pass them on to you to treasure.

Prompt for Friday

I think tomorrow I will try a chant-style poem.  Join me?

Gratitude List:

1.  “Yay for sledding day!”–Joss said it and I agree with him.
2.  Making gnomes with Ellis today.  What a delight to watch him make something that he treasures.
3.  The breezeway is clean–thanks, Jon!
4.  Fidelity, loyalty, integrity, being true, garnets.
5.  This:  “Ten times a day something happens to me like this – some strengthening throb of amazement – some good sweet empathic ping and swell. This is the first, the wildest and the wisest thing I know: that the soul exists and is built entirely out of attentiveness.” ― Mary Oliver

May we walk in beauty!

2013 January 023

Ellis made the star gnome.

2013 January 018

Four new gnomes.

A Poem, A Prompt and a Picture (with a Gratitude List)

Poem
First, the poem.  Today’s prompt was to begin with “All that I have ever been. . .”  My own chosen prompt, and I really struggled with this one.  I realized as soon as I started working with it that I set it up to be too navel-gazingly self-referential.  Ah, well.  Here’s an attempt:

All that I have ever been
meets in this moment
with all that I will ever be.

Yesterday I will be different
than I was tomorrow and yet the same.

Do we grow backwards into time
as well as forwards?

Time, we know, is no fixed line.
Perhaps it is a plane,
a blank surface which we cover
like a collage.
We slide across the surfaces
laying down colors,
images, and text.

Tomorrow’s Poetry Prompt:
Last month I wrote a poem that opened itself up to some really fun collaboration.  It began “I keep Forgetting. . .”  Tomorrow I am going to finish the “I keep Remembering” poem that I began shortly thereafter.  Join me?  Write one or the other, or both!

Photo:

Rough Beast

And now for Winky’s annual re-enactment of a famous literary quotation.  Any guesses about the T.S. Eliot poem she is thinking of?

(Joss was looking at the nativity scene today and explained to me very carefully how our set is missing the pony with wings.)

Gratitude List:

1.  Easy-open citrus
2.  Fun crafting time with the kids today
3.  We will get well again
4.  Every day brings more light
5.  Really heavy antique quilts

May we walk in beauty.