Into the Dark, December 7

Every year at this time, I feel the anxiety and restlessness begin to rise within me, and the cold settles into my bones. Every year, I need to consciously ease my spirit into the season. This year, from the beginning of December until Epiphany, I will set it down here on the blog. May we journey into the darkness with intention and tenderness.

In these chill mornings, while we are waiting in the warm car in the dawn for our carpool companion to come out to the car, I watch how the light rises through the trees in her hollow, how the branches cross and tangle, creating loops and circles and triangles and the shapes of eyes. I am a fan of Zentangles, and I find that lately I am am obsessed with putting lines on the page, crossing and intersecting much as the branches intertwine, as though my mind might float away into the grey winter sky were I not to catch it in a tangle of lines on paper.

While I do sometimes use prayer to describe that place I go when I am consciously opening a space within me to communicate with the Great Mystery, I more often find myself thinking in terms of placing myself deliberately on the web of being, of holding my beloveds in the web of energy generated by Love. The dawn trees, the lines on a page, the webs of prayer: I am held, anchored at least momentarily in time and space. So, tangle will be my word for today, a tangle that holds and anchors and communicates along its seemingly random lines.


Gratitude List:
1. Tangles and webs
2. Trees and dawn
3. Stories that nourish my spirit
4. Planning
5. How meaning comes into being

May we walk in Beauty!


“This is what you shall do; Love the earth and sun and the animals, despise riches, give alms to every one 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 of families, read these leaves in the open air every season of every year of your life, re-examine all you have been told at school or church or in any book, dismiss whatever insults your own soul, and your very flesh shall be a great poem and have the richest fluency not only in its words but in the silent lines of its lips and face and between the lashes of your eyes and in every motion and joint of your body.” ― Walt Whitman


I Looked Up
by Mary Oliver

I looked up and there it was
among the green branches of the pitch pines—
thick bird,
a ruffle of fire trailing over the shoulders and down the back—
color of copper, iron, bronze—
lighting up the dark branches of the pine.
What misery to be afraid of death.
What wretchedness, to believe only in what can be proven.
When I made a little sound
it looked at me, then it looked past me.
Then it rose, the wings enormous and opulent,
and, as I said, wreathed in fire.


At the Beginning of Winter
by Tom Hennen

In the shallows of the river
After one o’clock in the afternoon
Ice still
An eighth of an inch thick.
Night never disappears completely
But moves among the shadows
On the bank
Like a glimpse of fur.
Meanwhile
Trees
Grass
Flies and spiderwebs
Appear alone in the flat air.
The naked aspens stand like children
Waiting to be baptized
And the goldenrod too is stripped down
To its bare stalk
In the cold
Even my thoughts
Have lost their foliage.


“Myth is much more important and true than history. History is just journalism and you know how reliable that is.”
― Joseph Campbell


Breath flows in, breath flows out,
Traveling always the curving path of the Goddess.
Breath flows spontaneously of its own will.
Thus all breathing beings
Continually give reverence to Her.
Be conscious of this unconscious prayer,
For She is the most holy place of pilgrimage.

She wishes for you to enter this temple,
Where each breath is adoration
Of the infinite for the incarnate form.

Breath flows
Into this body
As a nectar of the gods.

Every breath is a whisper
Of the Goddess:
“Here is the ritual I ask of you —
Be the cup
Into which I pour this bliss,
The elixir of immortal peace.”

—Vijñāna Bhairava Tantra, Verses 154 -155
“The Radiance Sutras”
Lorin Roche

Skyful of Crows

Yesterday as I was falling asleep, meditating on how we make the shift from incivility to kindness, I saw a sky full of crows flying across the sky of my inner eye. All of us together, Friends. Hope against hope. Believe in the Good which is to come. Be ready to Be Change. Love and joy.
 
I do not deny that I go to bed tonight full of anxiety and angst for what tomorrow brings, but there’s a boatful of hope sailing that swamp, and a vast cloud of wise souls flying that gray cloudy sky. I cast the web from me to you. Let’s weave and dream.

Response Poem

Today’s prompt is to write a response to one of the previous poems from the month. I chose my April 27 poem.

There once was a girl
who was so afraid of spiders
that when a web of song,
a web of prayer,
came floating to her
on a breeze, she ran
as fast as she could
in the other direction.

There once was a girl
who was so afraid of darkness
that when a quiet veil
of comforting shadows
fell about her,
she fell down in terror
and hid her head
until the staring sun
came out again.

There once was a girl
who was so afraid of heights
that when her friends
sang bridges that led
to safer meadows,
she could not unfreeze
her footsteps from the Earth
to flee toward the havens.

Whenever she ran from her fears,
they always caught her.
Whenever she froze in terror,
she found herself engulfed.
I would like to say she learned
to reach her hands toward her friends
and find her way home.


Gratitude:
I am grateful today for the concentric and interlocking circles of community in my life, for the people who keep their protective eyes on my children, who teach and mentor them and love them.

May we walk in Beauty!

Singing Them Safe

clover
Today’s prompt is to write a story poem.

There once was a girl
who could sing such a web
of fractured light
that the ones who came
to devour her children
fell to the ground
blinded.

There once was a girl
who could sing such a veil
of soft gentle darkness
that the ones who came
to harm her beloveds
lost their way
and forgot their names.

There once was a girl
who could sing such a bridge
of delicate stories
that all those she loved
could cross to safety
and live free of fear.


Gratitude List:
1. “You will be found.” My favorite line from the school’s current show.
2. Deadnettle and dandelions: purple and yellow
3. Making connections, webs, bridges
4. Poem in Your Pocket Day in Wrightsville. Always a delight.
5. Weekend

May we walk in Beauty!

Tender Threads

Today’s Prompt is to write a ________ Thread poem

Tender Threads

Threads of story, threads of dream,
webs stretch across vast distances,
holding the space between your story and mine,
between this heartbeat, and that one.

Silver cords of energy stitch our hearts
into a single cloth that spreads
outward, a cloth of all the threads
that we have been, from the birth
of the first grandmother
to the newest person on the planet,
one tapestry, one weaving.


Gratitude List:
1. We had a girls’ choir from a school in South Africa sing in our chapel today. It was a sublime experience.
2. A student told me that I looked like a Persian princess today. I felt exotic instead of frumpy.
3. One of my students has been going through a rough patch, and it’s been apparent in her world-weary eyes. Today she came to talk to me, and her eyes were clear and sparkly again. My own heart lifted. May she find her way into the sunshine, and home to herself.
4. Spring morning birdsong
5. The tender hearts of my Beloveds.

May we walk in Beauty!


Quotes and Notes for the Day

Thursday’s Thoughts:
People Like Us
by Robert Bly

There are more like us. All over the world
There are confused people, who can’t remember
The name of their dog when they wake up, and people
Who love God but can’t remember where
He was when they went to sleep. It’s
All right. The world cleanses itself this way.
A wrong number occurs to you in the middle
Of the night, you dial it, it rings just in time
To save the house. And the second-story man
Gets the wrong address, where the insomniac lives,
And he’s lonely, and they talk, and the thief
Goes back to college. Even in graduate school,
You can wander into the wrong classroom,
And hear great poems lovingly spoken
By the wrong professor. And you find your soul,
And greatness has a defender, and even in death you’re safe.
***
I will hold your heart
as I hold all the stories
which you’ve let slip through
the filters of your fingers.
How they are caught in my web!
—Beth Weaver-Kreider
***
“Here is the world. Beautiful and terrible things will happen. Don’t be afraid.” ―Frederick Buechner
***
“The words you speak become the house you live in.” ―Hafiz
***
“Humans are the most intellectually advanced animal on the planet and yet, we are destroying our only home. The window of time is very small, but I refuse to believe that we cannot solve this problem.” ―Dr. Jane Goodall
***
“Memory makes the now fully inhabitable.” ―David Whyte
***
“Things which have once been in contact with each other continue to act on each other at a distance even after the physical contact has been severed.” ―James Frazer
***
“Which world are we trying to sustain: a resource to fulfill our desires of material prosperity, or an Earth of wonder, beauty, and sacred meaning?” — Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee
***
“And now that you don’t have to be perfect, you can be good.” —John Steinbeck
***
“Crystals are living beings at the beginning of creation. All things have a frequency and a vibration.” —Nikola Tesla

No Two Sides to Racism

Here are some things I have been writing, to try to pull out some threads of sense from the past day and from the sheer willful ignorance of the president of the United States in a time of crisis:

When I think of what happened in Charlottesville over the weekend, I keep getting images of the old photos I have studied of the morning after Kristallnacht. I remember some of my first impressions after reading that bit of history, of the sense of violation, of a government goading the worst of its citizenry to acts of violence which cowed and frightened the rest. I remember walking through modern-day Landau with an elder friend who remembered the broken windows first-hand.

Am I being too alarmist and shrill to say that I think Charlottesville was our Kristallnacht? The step over the line that should wake us up and spur us into action lest we allow fear to numb us and paralyze us into letting the evil wash over our consciousness and put us to sleep.

Stay woke. Stay unsettled and angry, if it helps to keep the energy going. Stay aware of every little thing. Speak truth. Don’t allow yourself to be silenced by the fear and confusion and misguided rage of others.

Here’s the web. I cast my line to you, and you, and you. I feel your presence. I sense your intention and your determination. I will help to hold the lines with you. We have our work to do.

Thanks for listening.
―Beth Weaver-Kreider
***

Let’s get this straight. Let’s make it clear:
There are no two sides to racism.
There are no two sides to racism.
There are no two sides to racism.

Repeat after me, Mr. President:
There are no two sides to racism.

Condemn all the violence, if you must,
but those who fight Nazis
are not the same as Nazis,
no matter what your Stephens say.

There are angry protesters,
and then there are terrorists
who bring their twisted ideology
to the streets, and if you must insist
that they are just the same,
then I say your bigotry is showing.

There are no two sides to racism.
―Beth Weaver-Kreider


“Before mass leaders seize the power to fit reality to their lies, their propaganda is marked by its extreme contempt for facts as such, for in their opinion fact depends entirely on the power of man who can fabricate it.”
―Hannah Arendt, The Origins of Totalitarianism
*
We must always take sides.
—Elie Wiesel
*
“Leave safety behind. Put your body on the line. Stand before the people you fear and speak your mind–even if your voice shakes. When you least expect it, someone may actually listen to what you have to say. Well-aimed slingshots can topple giants.”
―Maggie Kuhn
*
First they came for Transpeople and I spoke up–
Because God does NOT make mistakes!
They came for the African Americans and I spoke up—
Because I am my sisters’ and my brothers’ keeper.
And then they came for the women and I spoke up—
Because women hold up half the sky.
And then they came for the immigrants and I spoke up—
Because I remember the ideals of our democracy.
And then they came for the Muslims and I spoke up—
Because they are my cousins and we are one human family.
And then they came for the Native Americans and Mother Earth and I spoke up—
Because the blood-soaked land cries and the mountains weep.
They keep coming.
We keep rising up.
Because we Jews know the cost of silence.
We remember where we come from.
And we will link arms, because when you come for our neighbors, you come for us—
and THAT just won’t stand.
―Rabbi Michael Latz, MN 8.13.2017
*
Toko-pa Turner:
“What is wild in us are the ways in which we meet something freshly and not by rote. Wild is to be full-body alive in response to the conversation life is having with us; the caress of the wind which cools your skin after the sun has penetrated it with warmth. The shadow cast by a soaring bird above. The unmediated glance, surprised by beauty.

“When this conversation goes quiet from inattention, as it does for us all, know that it takes little to encourage it again. It is simply to remember that life isn’t only happening to us, but we are happening to life!”
*
“We live in a world in which we need to share responsibility. It’s easy to say “It’s not my child, not my community, not my world, not my problem.” Then there are those who see the need and respond. I consider those people my heroes.” ―Fred Rogers
*
“Life will break you. Nobody can protect you from that, and living alone won’t either, for solitude will also break you with its yearning. You have to love. You have to feel. It is the reason you are here on earth. You are here to risk your heart. You are here to be swallowed up. And when it happens that you are broken, or betrayed, or left, or hurt, or death brushes near, let yourself sit by an apple tree and listen to the apples falling all around you in heaps, wasting their sweetness. Tell yourself you tasted as many as you could.” ―Louise Erdrich, The Painted Drum
*
Parker Palmer said this:
“Since suffering as well as joy comes with being human, I urge you to remember this: Violence is what happens when we don’t know what else to do with our suffering.”
*
“Go out into the world today and love the people you meet. Let your presence light new light in the hearts of people.” ―Mother Teresa


Gratitude List:
1. Bree Newsome. My heart has turned to her so often in the past days. Her act of loving defiance―climbing a flag pole to remove the Confederate flag from the SC statehouse remains an inspiration for me. She was joyful, determined, prayerful. She woke up the nation, I think. Suddenly people were shaking off their sleep, blinking their eyes, and noticing how emblems of slavery in our public tax-funded spaces might be a bad idea.
2. Mitch Landrieu. If you haven’t yet, give yourself the gift of listening to his powerful speech about why New Orleans is removing its Confederate statues. He is articulate, wise, compassionate. Brilliant speechmaking.
3. All of us, together. We will stand against the powers of hatred.
4. Anchors. When I am getting myself into high dudgeon, I sometimes stop and breathe and think about the wise and calm and loving people I know, and I cast my webs their way, and hold onto their anchors so I don’t float away on my tides of emotion or burn myself up in my rages. I am blessed in family and friends who help me not to lose sight of the Center. You are probably one of these people.
5. Cats. Yes, another of my obsessions lately, but it’s just such a delight to have furry people in the house. I can forgive the nightly 2 AM Thunder Rumpus through the house because they bring us so much joy.

May we walk in Beauty!

Same Waters, Different Waters


Last summer: Two friends in their fort.

“To love is to recognize yourself in another.” ~Eckhart Tolle
*
“You can never really go back to the same waters. Not only are you no longer the same, but neither are the waters you left. The current has changed. The elements of nature have affected the stream. When you return, although it appears the same, it really is a different river and you are a different person. Therefore, you cannot cross the same river twice.”
– Alice Walker
*
Silent Friend
by Rainer Maria Rilke

Silent friend of many distances, feel
how your breath enlarges all of space.
Let your presence ring out like a bell
into the night. What feeds upon your face

grows mighty from the nourishment thus offered.
Move through transformation, out and in.
What is the deepest loss that you have suffered?
If drinking is bitter, change yourself to wine.

In this immeasurable darkness, be the power
that rounds your senses in their magic ring,
the sense of their mysterious encounter.

And if the earthly no longer knows your name,
whisper to the silent earth: I’m flowing.
To the flashing water say: I am.
*
TreeSong
by Beth Weaver-Kreider

The ancient ones know.
They will tell you the way.
Stand quietly before them.
Let their stillness enter you.
Listen for their songs of mystery.
*
“Who will tell us who we are
when the voices of the trees are silenced?
Who will give us direction
when the sentinels of the forest
can no longer tell us the way?”
Beth Weaver-Kreider

*
Gratitude WingTanka
by Beth Weaver-Kreider

Impossible things
that actually exist,
like the hummingbird.
how she hovers, how she hums,
how she flies like a whisper.
*
The Real Work
by Wendell Berry

It may be that when we no longer know what to do
we have come to our real work,
and that when we no longer know which way to go
we have come to our real journey.
The mind that is not baffled is not employed.
The impeded stream is the one that sings.
*
“The more clearly we can focus our attention on the wonders and realities of the universe about us, the less taste we shall have for destruction.” ~Rachel Carson


Gratitude List:
1. Here is a marvel: I made him inside me, but this boy knows so much more than I do. The Chromebook just kicked itself off the wi-fi (or something). He tinkered with something on his iPad for a few minutes, and suddenly everything worked again. It’s such a marvel to see them grow and develop like this. I knew that they would learn their way ahead of me, but I had no idea it would be happening this early, or this incomprehensibly.
2. Creating spaces
3. Bridges, pathways, doorways, webs
4. Defining my own terms
5. Homemade rice pudding

May we walk in Beauty!

Webs


Here’s a filtered photo of our little deer trail into the woods.


There are times in my life when I have thought I could almost tangibly feel myself on the web of prayer and well-wishes. In the past two days since the bus accident the sent over a dozen kids from my school into the hospital, I feel like I could reach out and touch that web. We’re so grateful for the fact that so many of them have been released from the hospital. If all went well today, all the high schoolers will be out by now.

We’re still worried about the “little guy,” as our principal refers to him in community prayers. The news reports are that he is stable, but still critical. And my heart is with the bus driver, who loves his kids.


Gratitude List:
1. Two of my students who were in the bus accident were back in classes today, subdued but all in one piece.  Several more performed in the band and orchestra concert tonight. I am so grateful for their safety.
2. The web. Thanks to so many people who prayed, who wrote notes, who held us all in the light.
3. That concert tonight! Orchestra, concert bands, jazz bands. These teachers draw such good music out of their students. Such incredibly talented folks.
4. Meadows filled with buttercups.
5. That hawk that sits in the top of a locust tree on Burgs Lane to catch the morning sun.

May we walk in Beauty!

Moving Through Time

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Gratitude List:
1. Ancestors
2. Moving through time.  I keep working with this idea that Michelle talked about a couple weeks ago, about scarcity and abundance.  I have always thought of those ideas in terms of things, but she explored how we tend to live with a sense of scarcity about time as well.  This hit me hard.  It’s how I have been living a good part of my adult life.  I  learned to protect my time, and then I began to guard it, fiercely.  And it just slips away anyway, doesn’t it?  I am practicing moving through time without feeling like I have to hoard it.
3. The sense of smell: right now it’s coffee perking.
4. How things can feel messy and disjointed and out of place and still be okay anyway.
5.  The web.  Again.  The web that holds us all together.  How we cast these lines between us.  How they shine.

May we walk in Beauty!