Musings, Poems

Voices Made of Fire

If you could trust your voice completely,
if you didn’t have to consider how how others would respond,
if you didn’t have to be safe, to be tame, to be docile and
humble, acceptable and charming and quiet,
if you had not been trained to make your words
into an easy chair, to turn your voice to honey:
What would you say?

Poems, Poetry Prompts

Outer Space, Inner Space

Today’s Prompt on Poetic Asides is to write a Lucky Number poem. My thirteen lines have thirteen syllables each. I might call the form thirteen squared.

Thirteen white pebbles in a woven nettle basket.
Thirteen striped feathers floating on the gentle spring breeze.
Thirteen tiny minnows circling in a shallow creek.

You’ve drawn the Death card, which is also Transformation.
One cycle is ending; another is beginning.

Ouroboros, Jormundgand, and Damballa Wedo:
Whatever you call it, the World Serpent eats its tail,
delineating a universe, shaping a world,
separating the outer space from the inner space.

Don’t take no as your final answer. Don’t give up now.
The hardest push comes just before the moment of birth.
The final moment of surrender to the process
is the moment that the light of the new world shines in.

Gratitudes, Musings

Notes from the Week’s Adventures

Notes on the Adventures of the Week:

My parents came on Tuesday morning when they heard that the tree crew was going to be able to come and take down the old poplar. They brought a friend from their garden: a monarch caterpillar. She wandered around and explored the milkweed all day, but did not eat.

   

   
They took the tree down in stages. By the end of the day Tuesday, a sweltering, humid rain swamp of a day, they had taken it down to the central trunk. The caterpillar had begun hanging from a leaf by her foot, and occasionally swaying or twitching as she began to get comfortable for her transformation.

   
By ten on Wednesday morning, the trunk was down, and the crew commenced to saw it into sections, carting away several dump truck loads. The lawn was completely torn up–they clearly tried very hard to be careful, but it was impossible on that wet ground not to make mud.

I came in the house at about 1 in the afternoon to find the caterpillar’s skin (that black thing on the leaf above the chrysalis–I put it there so I could have both in one picture) on the counter, and the emerald jewel of the chrysalis hanging there. How is that possible, that this oblong jewel was inside that caterpillar skin? And now for complete transformation: Her insides will dissolve into goo while her wings form and she takes her new shape.

 

This is the stump. I haven’t checked the measurement on its diameter, but you could put a little table and a chair up there. I posed the feather.

Notes from the tree guy:
1. He thinks it’s one of the tallest trees they’ve ever taken down.
2. It was still strong, but a couple more years and it would have been too much rot (see that big spot?) and would have been really dangerous in the taking down.
3. He thinks it was about 90 feet tall.

We counted the rings–it’s hard to be sure you’re getting them all–and got somewhere between 67 and 71 years. Some of the rings are really thin and some are really wide. This is the story the tree is telling.

The porch is now a sunny spot in the mornings.

I did not plan to reseed a yard this week, but that’s what I did today. Satisfying work, and it needed to be done before another big rain washes all the exposed topsoil away.

I’m going to miss the shade and the people who lived in the city of its branches, but seeing all that early rot in the middle of every large branch made me realize that it was a really good decision.


Gratitude List:
1. How the work gets done.
2. Painting. I have been loving my morning painting practice, and I am sad to see the time of relaxed morning painting coming soon to an end.
3. Clouds and blue sky.
4. Wind chimes. I bought myself a nice set of metal ones today to replace the clunky old bamboo ones.
5. Ferns and Morning Glories

May we walk in Beauty!

Gratitudes

Transformation

Gratitude List:
1. Wise voices. I am grateful for the people who are willing to take their time to wisely and compassionately and fiercely and gently mentor others. The ears of my heart are listening. This week has brought some important wise voices my way. If you are one of these people, you likely know who you are. I am holding great gratitude for you.
2. The first semester grades are in. I have been a bit of a mess, either scratching away furiously at the grading or avoiding the grading or being anxious about the grading. Now I am here, in this moment, in this semester. I can live this teaching space now without dragging a bagful of yesterday’s teaching around with me.
3. Images of transformation: the snake shedding her skin, the turtle diving down to sleep in the winter mud, the caterpillar hardening her chrysalis.
4. Hot tea
5. This work. I do mine, and you do yours, and our webs connect, and the world changes. Thank you for being part of the web.

Namaste!

Gratitudes

Wishes and Intentions

Gratitude List:
1. Sue, who was walking out of Market just before 8 this evening when I arrived to pick up cat food and cat litter. She turned right around and wouldn’t hear of anything but me getting what I needed before she closed up. My loyalty to Sue’s is sealed.
2. That historic yellow house in Wrightsville with the wreaths on the walls, and the lights in all the windows.
3. Winter is the time for root and bark teas. Fortifying.
4. Setting intentions/wishes for the coming year.
5. A day of solitude, and a chance to get my work done.

Much love. Walk in Beauty!

Gratitudes, Musings, Poems

The Journey Downward and Inward


Leaving the old shell behind. Grasshopper transformation.

“Let us not make America Great again.That greatness they yearn for was rooted in death and oppression. Let us make America Good. For all, for the very first time.

Do not let it go without saying. If you and your family denounce white supremacy: say it. Let it be known. You are not how you feel or think. You are what you say and do.” –Glennon Doyle
*
“Hate evil and love what is good. We have to be able to say that evil is evil. It’s not something that exists on many sides.” –Rabbi Jack Paskoff of Lancaster, PA
*
“I repose in myself. And that part of myself, that deepest and richest part in which I repose, is what I call ‘God.'” –Etty Hillesum
*
“THE JOURNEY DOWNWARD
Spiritual awakening is frequently described as a journey to the top of a mountain. In the process of discovering bodhichitta [the awakened heart], the journey goes down, not up. It’s as if the mountain pointed toward the center of the earth instead of reaching into the sky. Instead of transcending the suffering of all creatures, we move toward the turbulence and doubt. We explore the reality and unpredictability of insecurity and pain, and we try not to push it away. If it takes years, if it takes lifetimes, we let it be as it is. At our own pace, without speed or aggression, we move down and down and down. With us move millions of others, our companions in awakening from fear. At the bottom we discover water, the healing water of bodhichitta. Right down there in the thick of things, we discover the love that will not die.”
–Pema Chödrön
*
“I invite you to think about your relationship to human beings who haven’t been born yet. What might you create for them to use? How can you make your life a gift to the future? Can you not only help preserve the wonders we live amidst, but actually enhance them?” –Rob Brezsny
*
Lewis Carroll: “It’s a poor sort of memory that only works backward.”
*
“Some days,
you feel as though
you have been walking that knife edge
forever,
too afraid
to look to right or left.
And then one day,
you raise your gaze
and there before you
is the green valley
with a blue glass lake
and a silent island
that you have been seeking
in every dream
since you were born.” –Beth Weaver-Kreider
*
“I demand unconditional love and complete freedom. That is why I am terrible.”  –Tomaž Šalamun
*
“You want weapons? We’re in a library! BOOKS! The best weapons in the world.” –Doctor Who
*
“A banjo will get you through times of no money, but money won’t get you through times of no banjo.”  –John Hartford


Gratitude List:
1. The voices of Amanda Kemp, Kevin Ressler, Rev. Forbes, Andrea Brown, Jim Amstutz, and others at the Lancaster vigil last night. I am so proud of Lancaster and York for turning out like they did.
2. The stately and friendly architecture of downtown Lancaster.
3. The little screech owl trilling in the hollow. And then the great horned owl all in the early morning.
4. Sachs came out from under the bed! (See how I changed the spelling there? He is a person of such grave dignity that Socks seems insufficient. Sachs, on the other hand, has a grandeur, and even a hipness, which is in keeping with the cat himself.)
5. One more week of summer schedule. I am going to make the most of it!

May we walk in Beauty!

Gratitudes, Musings

The Number Four

flower

Instead of my typical 4:44, I woke up this morning at 5:34, fell asleep again, and woke up at 7:04. My friend Anna tells me that 4 is associated both with the Metal element and with Autumn in Chinese Medicine. Fall is a time of letting go. I think that I am being asked right now to let go of some of my expectations of myself, to realize that I can’t systematize and organize the stress away.

I have to step into the river and start moving the rocks around. Get my feet wet, get my hands muddy.

The number four seems to be my wake-up number. What shall I wake up to in these days when the winds are pulling me to make and create something new, in these days when the weight of work is heavy on me?

Four is also about stability. The square is more static than the triangle. I can rest in the comfort of the four corners of the square, but eventually, I am going to let my balance shift and move into the more dynamic space of the five, which pulses like a star, disrupts the patterns and flow that have been set in the cozy household of the four, and brings a new awareness.

Every step is about waking up, eh?

Gratitude List:
Have you ever noticed
1. How sometimes three or four different leaves will be floating downward through the air, far from the trees, as though they have materialized from some other dimension?
2. How the autumn wind calls, begs for attention, wants you to wander, to go adventuring?
3. How understanding dawns somewhere behind the eyes, how it shifts the eyebrows and the temples upward, how it straightens the spine?
4. How heavier blankets often bring deeper sleep?
5. How new thoughts and ideas flow like streams, little tributaries meandering toward the Big Thought, the new concept, the river of knowing?

May we walk in Beauty!

Gratitudes

Rhythm and Change

DSCN9011

Gratitude List:
1. Reassessing.  Watching someone have the courage to say, “This doesn’t work.  I am going to try something different.”  Because sometimes will and determination aren’t about perseverating and following through on that one thing despite all indications that it isn’t working.  Sometimes will and determination are about having the wisdom and grace to say that it’s time to find a different new thing.
2. How community forms naturally and organically when it is given the spaces and the rooms in which to thrive.
3. How there is always something more to strive for and to learn.  This sometimes looks pretty crunchy–I can feel like I am always inadequate, never quite up to the task, never quite the best best that I can be.  Or I can remember that I am never completely formed, never static, never done, but that there are always new ways to grow and develop and change, to transform.
4. Rhythms.  Things are always changing.  Things are always staying the same.  Like fractals, the patterns repeat endlessly with intricate variations that create complexity and beauty.
5. I hear phoebe calling this week.  Welcome back, Wing-friends!

May we walk in Beauty!

Gratitudes, Poems

There Needs to Be a Poem

There needs to be a poem here
something to fill the space
to inspire
to bless.

There needs to be a word
that fills the small green hollows
between the first shy greeting
and the questions
that draw out the hearts
like small burrowing animals
from their safe nests.

There needs to be a song here.
At least a whispered line
with a hint of a melody
and a rhythm
like the chirping of the tree frogs
high in the oak grove.

Let us stand in the moment
shoulder to shoulder
like the deer on the verge
we caught in our headlights,
and listen for the distant unrolling of words.

 

Gratitude List:
1.  That wonderful woman at OfficeMax yesterday who said that since the Lancaster store was selling notebooks for a penny a piece, she could give me the same price, and then only gulped a little when I said, “That’s so great!  I’d like a hundred for my English classes!”  I quickly realized that I was taking overenthusiastic advantage of a kindness and cut my number back just a little.
2.  Waters of Transformation.  Yes, indeed.
3.  I have a job where people sometimes start the day with a collegial hymn-sing.  Have I landed in a perfect place for me, or what?
4.  Inspiration struck when I needed it and before I was a complete wreck of exhaustion: I have been a little anxious this weekend about preparation for the coming week.  I came away from last week sort of feeling like I had drained my wells of inspiration for lesson plans.  Just like poetry writing, however: When you let go, sometimes the streams begin to trickle back in again, and sometimes they come in as a flood. I hope the students are a tenth as eager for the work I present tomorrow as I am to present it.
5.  Family time.  Meeting Kim’s dear children.  Basking in Craig’s delightful smile.  Listening to the harmonica trio play in harmony.  Discussing recipes for fish.

May we walk in Beauty!