Let the Women Come

I keep re-writing this sentence, and deleting it. There is no prose to say it, even to frame the context of the poem, which is the local news from Columbia, PA. Only, this is grief and horror and outrage because men keep harming women and children, keep killing women and children, because patriarchy makes of us commodities, makes of our children tools, makes the not-man a disposable object for a men to use as they please.

Let the Women Come
by Beth Weaver-Kreider

Let the women come.
Let the young women come
pounding drums and rattling spears.
Let the mothers come, bearing bowls to hold the tears,
and blankets to wrap her in.
Let the old women come, with sharpened knives and with cauldrons
holding coals, and feathered fans to call the coals to flame.

Let them come.
Let them come.

Let the bone women come, and the bear women,
Let the dragon women come, women of fang and flame.
Let the falcon women come, and the vulture women.
The lion women. The mighty swan women.

Let them come.
Let them come.

See, our hair is wild, and tangled in the branches of moonlight.
See, our heads are shorn, and our skulls reflect the heat of the noon sun.
See, we emerge from the darkest hidden places of the forests,
from the caves, from the fields, from the mountains.
See how we rise from the seas and the rivers.
See us circling in great wheeling flocks above your towns and cities.
We step from the shadows of your nightmares.
We dance forth from the spiraling hallways of memory,
which you carry from long before you were born.

Let the others come and stand, each behind a woman.
Hear our keening and wailing.
Hear us gnashing our teeth, hear us howling, hear us screaming.
Hear the cacophony of our grief and our rage.

We form a circle around our sisters.
We form a circle around our daughter, around all our children.
We form a circle around our elders.

See, our eyes are shining in the moonlight.
See, our teeth are bared, and our nails are sharp.
See, our bodies are painted with the signs that ward off evil.

We are chanting the blessing for the dead,
that she may find welcome on the other side.
We are chanting the healing runes for our wounded sisters,
for our lost children.
We are calling out a warning to the ones who do the harm.
We are weaving spells to trip and to bind them,
to strip them of power, to grip their souls
with the ice of their own deeds.

In the moonlight, we form our circle.
In the heat of the noon sun, our circle is cast.
In the fullness of day and under the rich cloak of night,
our words go forth to protect and to ward,
to bind, and to turn the evil back upon itself.

Let the women come.
Let them come.


In lieu of a gratitude list today as I am processing my grief and outrage at the horror of recent local (Columbia, PA) news, I offer my version of the Hail Holy Queen Rosary Prayer:

Hail, Holy Queen!
Hail, Mother of Mercy.
Hail, our life, our sweetness, and our hope.
To thee do we cry, we poor lost children of Eve.
To thee do we lift up our sighs and petitions,
our ardent longings, our earnest devotion, and our great gratitude.
Then turn, Most Gracious Advocate, thine eyes of mercy upon us,
and after this our long exile,
show unto us the blessed fruit of thy womb.
O clement! O wise! O sweet, loving Mother!
Pray for us, Queen of Heaven,
that we may be always returning home
to the promises of love.

Blessed Be!


Sunday’s Words:
“Do not be dismayed by the brokenness of the world. All things break. And all things can be mended. Not with time, as they say, but with intention. So go. Love intentionally, extravagantly, unconditionally. The broken world waits in darkness for the light that is you.” —L.R. Knost


“When a foreigner lives with you in your land, don’t take advantage of him. Treat the foreigner the same as a native. Love him like one of your own. Remember that you were once foreigners in Egypt. I am God, your God.” —Leviticus, 19:33


“In keeping silent about evil, in burying it so deep within us that no sign of it appears on the surface, we are implanting it, and it will rise up a thousand fold in the future. When we neither punish nor reproach evildoers, we are not simply protecting their trivial old age, we are thereby ripping the foundations of justice from beneath new generations.” ―Aleksandr I. Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago 1918–2008


“In times of uncertainty, the most difficult thing to do is to stop searching for detours. It can be tempting to act from the desperation one feels when an abyss opens around you, but all of the ego’s equipment is useless in these dark regions. Instead, consider this an invitation to deepen your trust – to renew your committed heart to its course. After all, every creation was first seeded in an absence.” —Dreamwork with Toko-pa


“We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty.” —Maya Angelou


“When we enter this world with waking consciousness we put on our earthly suit of clothes. We move slower, but the principles are the same. Sometimes I like to move through this conscious realm as if I were dreaming. In dreaming we are more in touch with how our thoughts create immediately and dynamically. If I think myself into the heart of the song, there I am, or a plant, or a knot of pain that is asking for forgiveness, there I am. So much knowing opens up then. We are all part of each other.” —Joy Harjo


“Clouds come floating into my life, no longer to carry rain or usher storm, but to add color to my sunset sky.” ―Rabindranath Tagore


“I really only love God as much as I love the person I love the least.” ―Dorothy Day


“Franciscan alternative orthodoxy doesn’t bother fighting popes, bishops, Scriptures, or dogmas. It just quietly but firmly pays attention to different things—like simplicity, humility, non-violence, contemplation, solitude and silence, earth care, nature and other creatures, and the ‘least of the brothers and sisters.'” —Richard Rohr


“Go deeper than love, for the soul has greater depths,
love is like the grass, but the heart is deep wild rock
molten, yet dense and permanent.
Go down to your deep old heart, and lose sight of yourself.
And lose sight of me, the me whom you turbulently loved.
Let us lose sight of ourselves, and break the mirrors.
For the fierce curve of our lives is moving again to the depths
out of sight, in the deep living heart.
But say, in the dark wild metal of your heart
is there a gem, which came into being between us?
is there a sapphire of mutual trust, a blue spark?
Is there a ruby of fused being, mine and yours, an inward glint?”
—D. H. Lawrence

Once Were Women

Not entirely sure how the strangeness of this poem came about. I found the trail and followed it, is all.

Once Were Women
by Beth Weaver-Kreider

There was a woman who lived in a very
small house. She had small rooms
and small chairs and her door was
small and her windows were small
and when she spoke, her words
came out small and her life was just so
small and no one was surprised
when she ran away from her small house
and went to live in the wilderness.

That other woman lived in a crooked place
and her paths were crooked and her
couch was crooked and the pictures
were crooked on her walls and crooked
was her way of walking and when she spoke
the words tumbled crooked from her mouth
and everyone understood when one day
she stood up straight and stretched her spine
and went to live with the small woman
out in the wilderness.

The very tall and thin woman with
a thin, thin smile, one day she smiled
wide and went to live with the women
who lived their wild lives in the wilderness.
And the woman who tried to be invisible:
she let herself be seen one day and she
ran out to join them, too, and the woman
who used to start every sentence with “Sorry.”
And the one who ate only leaves,
and the one who had headaches,
and the one who bought all the shoes,
and the one who painted everything grey,
and the one who swallowed her song,
and the one who was afraid of the rain.
Off they ran, and they became wild
as the animals, and some of them became
animals and some of them became
raindrops and some of them became
the red oak leaves quivering in the wind.
And they lived.
Happily.
Ever.
After.


Gratitudes:
1. I came downstairs this morning and Youngest (who is in a negative and defiant phase), said, “Ooooh! I like all those colors!”
2. We saw a fox on the way to school! I took a dirt connector road that I’ve been avoiding because the farm cats on that road don’t seem to have enough fear for cars, and trotting down the road ahead of us was Red Tod himself. He ducked into the underbrush before we passed.
3. There’s a Moms group at our school that gave each teacher a gift bag this week: yummy snacks, coffee, tea, mints, trail mix, a Post-it notepad, and a shiny silver pen. It was a big morale boost.
4. At least now that we’re definitely going virtual for a while, it will relive me of the sense of something impending. This feels like a really good call. I was just beginning to feel unsafe.
5. Having hard conversations–I feel like I am growing in my ability to engage conversations without getting defensive and without trying to appease, just sitting with the challenge of it, saying my part, and listening empathetically. (I hope I didn’t jinx myself by saying that.)

May we do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly in Beauty!


“Walk fearlessly into the house of mourning, for grief is just love squaring up to its oldest enemy.” —Kate Braestrup


“Honesty matters. Vulnerability matters. Being open about who you were at a moment in time when you were in a difficult or an impossible place matters more than anything.” —Neil Gaiman


“Yesterday we obeyed kings and bent our necks before emperors, but today we kneel only to truth, follow only beauty, and obey only love.” —Kahlil Gibran


“To write is to ask questions. It doesn’t matter if the answers are true or puro cuento. After all and everything only the story is remembered, and the truth fades away like the pale blue ink on a cheap embroidery pattern.” —Sandra Cisneros, Caramelo


“With guns, you can kill terrorists.
With education, you can kill terrorism.” —Malala Yousufsai


“The [one] who moves a mountain
begins by carrying away small stones.”
—Confucius, The Analects


“We learn from our gardens to deal with the most urgent question of the time: How much is enough?” —Wendell Berry

Nourishing Those Who Come After

Someone got to the Heron in the night before I could check it out yesterday—one of the People Who Deal with Death. I wasn’t quite able to bring myself to go get a close look. Perhaps after a while, I’ll go check if there are feathers left which I can photograph. Meanwhile, I will imagine the rich milk of a fox mother nourishing a nestle of kits, who dream at night that they are gliding on great blue wings above the fields and streams of the hollow.

Everything returns. Everything feeds the next thing. Everything is nourished by that which came before. May we be food for the next cycle. May our words, our actions, our fierce determination, our resilience, our abiding joy, our activism and our contemplation be nourishment for those who come after us.

It is International Women’s Day. Let’s remember, as we celebrate the women whose lives and stories have fed us, that we must feed the coming generations of women their rights.


Gratitude List:
1. The courageous activist women who have struggled with their whole beings for equal rights. May we continue their struggle.
2. The quiet women who continued to work and nurture and do what needed to be done behind the scenes. May we be steady and reliable, too.
3. The contemplatives and poets, women who inspired us to be better, more evolved humans. May our words sing, and our meditations deepen.
4. The resilient women, who took their own stories of struggle and pain, and turned them into fierce walking boots, firm ground for striding, protective clothing for the long journey. May we, too, be resilient.
5. The women who are coming behind us. May they reach with hope and determination and calm and fierce resilience toward their own empowered futures, their own empowered nows. May we be a strong foundation upon which they may stand and reach upward.

May we walk in Beauty!

In the Dreamtime, Day 13

We’re still within the twelve days of Christmas, but since I start counting the Dreamtime at Solstice, we’re on to Day 13 now in this little pocket of my counting of time.

One of the things I begin to discover at this point in the process of collecting the words and images from my dreams is that I start to catch echoes of my collection in the world around me. Bridges and boundaries are common enough metaphors, but because they’ve been swirling around in my dream-soup, when I catch references to them in people’s daily speech, it feels like I am receiving secret messages. I am listening for echoes now, affirmation that the words and images I am sanding and honing are the ones I should put in my internal medicine pouch to carry into the coming year.

In last night’s dream, Jon and I and a child (perhaps an amalgam of the two boys) are trying to get somewhere, hitching rides on the trains like hobos. It’s really dangerous, and I am terribly worried that the child will fall off. We finally decide to stop taking the risks and walk, but by this time we are far out in the wilderness, in the woods, and getting to civilization will take days. We sleep in the woods, and find our food where we can. Despite the long walk and the uncertainty, it feels like the right choice. I think the child is really me, and some of the recent choices I am making about the way I work, and the boundaries I set, are making the journey harder and lonelier perhaps, but safer for that inner child. Good choices.

In other dreams I am trying to text Jon that my meeting has gone really short and I can take Ellis home from school after all. Technology and phones never seem to work in dreams. I cannot find the numbers or the right app to text. Typical anxiety dream. Will Deep Self really be able to get the necessary messages across to Waking Self?


Gratitude List:
1. The dawning of women. I was unprepared for quite how relieved I would feel yesterday looking at the images of those joyful, powerful women entering Congress. I thought I had experienced all the joy when I learned they had been elected, but yesterday was a joyful day.
2. The three million women of Kerala who made a chain to tell the world that it is the time of women.
3. It’s the Tuesday of my work week, but it’s Friday. I really needed this slow start.
4. Michelle Obama’s book. She weaves words and ideas well. Her story is so completely her own story and her family’s story, but she deftly weaves the connection of her story to the experiences of black families in the past century, so that as I am learning her own history, I am developing a deeper context for understanding the Great Migration, white flight from cities, and the persistence of structural racism.
5. Dean’s pies. Every year my colleague makes a tableful of pies (8? 10? 12?) for us. It creates truly impossible choices. I take tiny slivers of several. And it’s sublime. Yesterday was a delicious day.

May we walk in Beauty!


“The glory of friendship is not the outstretched hand, not the kindly smile, nor the joy of companionship; it is the spiritual inspiration that comes to one when you discover that someone else believes in you and is willing to trust you with a friendship.” —Ralph Waldo Emerson


“We use language to build the structures upon which we hang our ideas. Language is the scaffold upon which we develop whole structures of thought. Language anchors and shapes and breathes life into thought and idea. Conventional thinking, and conventional language, can end up being a pretty tight little box of a windowless building that doesn’t let in the light. The air in there gets pretty stale. When language—and its attendant ideas—become calcified and crippled into arthritic patterns, poetic image and word-use can find new ways to say things, can break windows into the walls of those airless rooms and build ornate new additions onto the old structures. Poetry jars the cart of language out of its constricting wheel ruts. This is why poets and writers can make good revolutionaries—if they know their work and do their jobs well.” —Beth Weaver-Kreider, 2014


“The nuclear arms race is like two sworn enemies standing waist-deep in gasoline, one with three matches, the other with five.” —Carl Sagan


Mary Oliver, on the Great Horned Owl: “I know this bird. If it could, it would eat the whole world.” And then: “The world where the owl is endlessly hungry and endlessly on the hunt is the world in which I too live. There is only one world.”


Fierce Wild Joy
by Beth Weaver-Kreider, 2016

May this year bring you joy
like crows rising from the fields

fierce
wild joy

yelling full-voice
into the wind

rowing through the tempest
with nothing but feathers.


“Have patience with everything
that remains unsolved in your heart.
Try to love the questions themselves,
like locked rooms and like books
written in a foreign language.
Do not now look for the answers.
They cannot now be given to you
because you could not live them.
It is a question of experiencing everything.
At present you need to live the question.
Perhaps you will gradually,
without even noticing it,
find yourself experiencing the answer,
some distant day.”
―Rainer Maria Rilke


“With life as short as a half taken breath, don’t plant anything but love.”
―Jalaluddin Rumi

Day of Reckoning


Such beautiful eyes, boy and cat. The purring was loud.

Today’s Prompt is to write a “________ Day” Poem. I am fighting-angry these days, so this poem will speak to that .

Day of Reckoning
by Beth Weaver-Kreider

This is the day we reckon with the lies of the old men.
This is the day we see how the truth is uncovered.
This is the day we pick up the rock,
and watch what crawls out from beneath.
This is the day we watch patriarchy crumble
beneath the load of its own falsehoods.

This is the day we open the golden doors of the cages
where blind old men lock their little dolls
safe from the ravages of others, safe for themselves.
This is the day we stand up and say,
Our bodies are not your political tools.

This is the day we welcome the Mother
from the mists where She has been hidden.

Sisters, God is not a withered old man
who will lock you in a box until he is ready to use you.
God is an Aunty who will teach you how
to unlock the cage of your throat.
She is a Grandmother who will dress you
in your fierce and glorious clothing.
She is a Mother who will open your doors,
and throw wide your windows.
She is a Sister who will listen to your questions,
and teach you how to fight.

This is the day we reckon with women.


Gratitude List:
1. Clean floors!
2. Time to work on grading, and still time to clean and be with boys
3. The truth will out
4. The mothers, the aunties, the grandmothers, the sisters
5. Chicken curry and rice for supper, and Jon says he is bringing home some injera!

May we walk in Beauty!

Help One Another

“Help one another. It is the only way to survive.” –Elie Wiesel
*
“Therefore, dark past,
I’m about to do it.
I’m about to forgive you

for everything.”
–Mary Oliver
*
“I believe that without some inner experience of powerlessness, and the wisdom that potentially comes with it, most individuals will misunderstand and abuse power.” ~~Richard Rohr
*
“Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.” –Anais Nin
*
“Let us not become the evil that we deplore.” Rep. Barbara Lee, 9/14/01
*
Book of Hours II, 16
by Rainer Maria Rilke

How surely gravity’s law,
strong as an ocean current,
takes hold of even the strongest thing
and pulls it toward the heart of the world.

Each thing –
each stone, blossom, child –
is held in place.
Only we, in our arrogance,
push out beyond what we belong to
for some empty freedom.

If we surrendered
to earth’s intelligence
we could rise up rooted, like trees.

Instead we entangle ourselves
in knots of our own making
and struggle, lonely and confused.

So, like children, we begin again
to learn from the things,
because they are in God’s heart;
they have never left him.

This is what the things can teach us:
to fall,
patiently to trust our heaviness.
Even a bird has to do that
before he can fly.
*
From Terry Tempest Williams:
“We are creatures of paradox, women and bears, two animals that are enormously unpredictable, hence our mystery. Perhaps the fear of bears and the fear of women lies in our refusal to be tamed, the impulses we arouse and the forces we represent….As women connected to the earth, we are nurturing and we are fierce, we are wicked and we are sublime. The full range is ours. We hold the moon in our bellies and fire in our hearts. We bleed. We give milk. We are the mothers of first words. These words grow. They are our children. They are our stories and our poems.”


Gratitude List:
1. Riding bike on the rail trail. Flat smooth road, cool breeze, woods and stones and water.
2. Weaving, weaving our lives together by sharing our stories
3. Comfortable days in July. Yesterday was my perfect weather
4. The wisdom of Representative Barbara Lee. For seventeen years, she has continued to remind us that the president should not have the power to decide on his/her own to make war. Finally, she has been heard.
5. Hummingbirds, by which I mean magic

May we walk in Beauty!