The Fool Sets Off

The Fool Sets Off On the Journey, Brightwing Tarot

In the tarot, that ancient tool for exploring the journey to the center of the self, the Fool sets off on a journey. She’s naive and eager to court adventure. He’s unafraid of dangers that may lie in his path. They dance on the edge of the cliff, follow the trail of butterflies, and seek out that which is fresh and new and exciting. Anything could happen, yes, but anything COULD happen! With Walt Whitman, the Fool sings: “Done with indoor complaints, libraries, querulous criticisms, / Strong and content, I travel the travel the open road!”

This is how the fairy tale begins. You are the golden child, innocent, hopeful, full of promise. Tabula rasa, a blank slate. Anything can happen.

You live on the edge of a great wood, a forest beautiful and terrifying. You live in a warm, inviting cottage. In a poor but tidy little hut. In a fine and well-appointed house. In a castle. In a dirty, ramshackle hovel. In a high tower.

With warm, nurturing, and protective parents, or a family struck by despair and dysfunction. With a gentle and forgetful grandmother. With your father, a benevolent but distant king, and his wife, a smothering overprotector. With the vain and hostile wife of your loving but absent father, a traveling merchant. With a terrible witch who stole you from your family. With a kind witch who has rescued you from your suffering.

One thread runs through all the tales: You are admonished not to go into the forest alone. There is a set boundary, a garden, a lane, a wall—a line that you must, for your own safety, never cross. For the wood, while full of calling birds and bright butterflies, can also be a place of fear and danger, where a child could be lost or eaten by wolves. Both the beauties and the dangers are very real.

And the wood is exactly the place that your adventure must take you, for the forest is the landscape of your own adult life. Perhaps, like Red Riding Hood, you made your first steps into this wood on your own with the firm and gentle guidance of a loving parent who gently set you on the most known pathway. Perhaps, like Hansel and Gretel or Vasilissa the Brave, you were set into the wood without supplies or direction, pushed out of childhood innocence before you were ready. Maybe, like Goldilocks, you followed a trail of bright flowers or a shining ray of sunlight into the wood, against all the cautions of the adults in your life, and your own curiosity drew you into the trees.

Aunt Eliza’s Advice for Lost Children
by Beth Weaver-Kreider

Once upon a time there lived a golden child
who followed a trail of bright flowers
deep into the heart of the forest.

That’s you, in case you hadn’t picked it up,
and the forest is the life you are wandering in.
This is the story you chose for your own
in those rainbow days before you were born.

Oh, for most of us, and much of the time,
the forest is fairly navigable, and not too scary.
But sometimes we get caught in the brambles,
overwhelmed by the shadows, befriended
by suave and creepy fellows in wolfskin.

We forget how to find our way,
forget that we are the main character,
the child of the glorious day,
forget our identity,
forget our destiny, our star
forget how to follow our guides,
forget who they are.

So step into the clearing, Dearies.
Have a seat by the fire.
Here’s a little advice:

Keep following the flowers,
the butterflies, the little birds,
whatever drew you in here in the first place.

Go ahead and flirt with the wolves,
but don’t give them Grandma’s address.

Breaking and entering is still
breaking and entering, Sweetie,
even if it’s a cute little cottage.
You never know what’s in the oatmeal.

Listen to the doll your mother gave you.
Your mother’s voice inside yourself
will always lead you true.

Beware of riddling with old women.
Always remember your manners,
and always be kinder than necessary.

There’s a happily-ever-after
right around the bend,
but you might have to travel
half a lifetime and complete
three impossible tasks
to reach it.


More Advice from Aunt Eliza
by Beth Weaver-Kreider

It doesn’t always have to be so,
but it seems to be the way things go:

When the sunny trail ends at that dead ash tree,
when the sweet-scented grasses turn to brambles,
when the radiant butterfly flits into shadows
and out from behind the tree pads the wolf–

That is when the story really gets started.

Epiphany can be those shiny angels,
those glittering kings bearing gold,
but it also comes in shadows and cobwebs.

One day you are sleep-walking
through your dreamy life,
not paying attention to where the path leads,
and epiphany comes in the form of a crow,
calling your name from the topmost branch
of a lightning-struck oak.

Or you find the sweet cottage
but wake up surrounded by bears
or tossed head-first into the furnace.

Or an old woman in tatters and rags
swoops into the clearing, chattering,
demanding to know who you think you are,
demanding your service, your heart.

And that’s the key, isn’t it?
Who do you think you are, meddling in this story?
Can you give your whole heart to the process?
What are you doing here, in the heart of this forest,
this landscape of your life?
What is your real name?
Are you ready to fight for it?
To go on a quest, answer the riddle,
do the three impossible tasks,
risk your own dissolution, your death,
just to claim it as your own?

You thought you were so brave,
following the path to explore the woods,
though you’d been warned,
though your skin prickled,
though you knew the stories
of those who never returned.

Now is the time for bravery.
Now is the time for fierce
uncompromising joy.
Now the real exploration begins.


Gratitude List:
1. Symbols for the journey
2. Good coffee
3. Art-gallery-hopping
4. Adventure
5. Fairy Tales
May we walk in Wonder!


“One of the greatest tragedies in life is to lose your own sense of self and accept the version of you that is expected by everyone else.” —K.L. Toth


“Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.” —Oscar Wilde


“Believe me, you will find more lessons in the woods than in books. Trees and stones will teach you what you cannot learn from masters.” —St. Bernard of Clairvaux


“A woman with opinions had better develop a thick skin and a loud voice.” —Anya Seton


“The best teachers are those who show you where to look, but don’t tell you what to see.” —Alexandra K.Trenfor


“It doesn’t interest me what you do for a living, I want to know what you ache for. It doesn’t interest me how old you are, I want to know if you are willing to risk looking like a fool for love, for your dreams, for the adventure of being alive. I want to know if you can live with failure, yours and mine. It doesn’t interest me where you live or how rich you are, I want to know if you can get up after a night of grief and despair, weary and bruised to the bone, and be sweet to the ones you love. I want to know if you can be alone with yourself and truly like the company you keep in the empty moments of your life.” —Oriah Mountain Dreamer


The Bridge

In a trivial gesture, in a greeting,
in the simple glance, directed
in flight toward other eyes,
a golden, a fragile bridge is constructed.
This alone is enough.

Although it is only for a moment, it exists, exists.
This alone is enough.
—Circe Maia
translation from the Spanish by Jesse Lee Kercheval


“If you have good thoughts they will shine out of your face like sunbeams and you will always look lovely.” ―Roald Dahl


“To live in this world, you must be able to do three things: to love what is mortal; to hold it against your bones knowing your own life depends on it; and, when the time comes to let it go, to let it go.” ―Mary Oliver


“What should young people do with their lives today? Many things, obviously. But the most daring thing is to create stable communities in which the terrible disease of loneliness can be cured.” ―Vonnegut

When You Flew

   

   

Gratitude List:
1. Chicory everywhere! Bluer as sky, blue as Mary’s robe, blue as my beloved’s eye. Joy on the roadside.
2. Cucumber rounds with cream cheese. Perfect. Just perfect.
3. Dragonflies
4. Novels. Stories. Narrative. They teach me who I am.
5. Biscuits and gravy.

May we walk in Beauty!


Words for Wednesday:

“While the impostor draws his identity from past achievements and the adulation of others, the true self claims identity in its belovedness. We encounter God in the ordinariness of life: not in the search for spiritual highs and extraordinary, mystical experiences but in our simple presence in life.” ―Brennan Manning
***
“I used to think I was the strangest person in the world but then I thought there are so many people in the world, there must be someone just like me who feels bizarre and flawed in the same ways I do. I would imagine her, and imagine that she must be out there thinking of me too. Well, I hope that if you are out there and read this and know that, yes, it’s true I’m here, and I’m just as strange as you.” —Frida Kahlo
***
Rob Brezsny ft. Clarissa Pinkola Estes:
“Devote yourself to your heart’s desire with unflagging shrewdness. Make it your top priority. Let no lesser wishes distract you. But consider this, too. You may sabotage even your worthiest yearning if you’re maniacal in your pursuit of it.

Bear in mind the attitude described by Clarissa Pinkola Estés in her book “Women Who Run with the Wolves”: “All that you are seeking is also seeking you. If you sit still, it will find you. It has been waiting for you a long time.”

Speculate on what exactly that would look like in your own life. Describe how your heart’s desire has been waiting for you, seeking you.”
***
“Don’t worry, spiders,
I keep house
casually.”
―Robert Hass, Field Guide
***
“The world as we have created it is a process of our thinking. It cannot be changed without changing our thinking.” ―Albert Einstein
***
“Why do you go away? So that you can come back. So that you can see the place you came from with new eyes and extra colors. And the people there see you differently, too. Coming back to where you started is not the same as never leaving.” ―Terry Pratchett
***
“Do I contradict myself? Very well, then, I contradict myself; I am large—I contain multitudes.”
―Walt Whitman
***
“The snake which cannot cast its skin has to die. As well the minds which are prevented from changing their opinions; they cease to be mind.” ―Friedrich Nietzsche

Bramble and Thorn


Today’s  prompt is to write a danger poem:

Bramble and Thorn

Now you have endangered our children.
Your insatiable greed
and your ravening thirst
bring death to their doorways
and poison their waters.
You’ve sold your souls
to any devil who can pay
and you roll across the land
with your ravening hunger,
your howls and growls of need.

So we make ourselves into brambles.
We become the thorns
that stand in your path,
make the land into a maze
that will turn you and taunt you,
send you curling back upon yourselves.
Like the wild rose and the blackberry,
we dig ourselves into the soil
and new thorns rise.
You trample us,
and our broken stubs take root.
You cut us back, and we flourish.
More and more and more of us,
we rise in your pathway.
You cannot pass.


Words I am Grateful For:
1. Harbor: safe, protective, intentional, revolutionary
2. Revolution: turning, changing, fierce
3. Fierce: loving, protective, nurturing
4. Thorn: challenge, protection, secretive
5. Wilderness: wildness, safe, free

May we walk in Beauty!

The Fountain Is There

Today’s Prompt is to write an unlucky poem. I’m going to pull a phrase from the Leonard Cohen quote at the top of today’s list, and follow the ideas of Rob Brezsny in the quote at the end of the list.

Bahati Mbaya
by Beth Weaver-Kreider

All the lengths we go to
to armor ourselves against fate,
to shield our hearts from destiny:

Bad luck, we say. Just tough luck.
Dumb luck, 
we tell ourselves.
Lady Luck has not seen fit
to reward the risks we’ve taken.

I’m talking in my own ear here,
singing myself a lullaby,
crooning in Swahili:
Bahati mbaya, Mdogo.

Maybe I just can’t get there
from here. It’s not in the cards
or the gods are not smiling
upon my endeavors.

How we do make ourselves unlucky.
How we do call the losing hand.
How we do set up the game for failure.
How we do fail to take a stand.

I’m racking up my rejections,
calling in my losses,
wrangling my failures,
bearing my crosses.

Bad luck is luck all the same
and the odds are good
if we hang on to hope
that the next roll of the dice
could turn this game around.


“It is fabled that we slowly lose the gift of speech with animals, that birds no longer visit our windowsills to converse. As our eyes grow accustomed to sight they armour themselves against wonder.” —Leonard Cohen
*
Denise Levertov:
Don’t say, don’t say there is no water
to solace the dryness at our hearts.

I have seen
The fountain springing out of the rock wall
and you drinking there. And I too
before your eyes
found footholds and climbed
to drink the cool water.

The woman of that place, shading her eyes,
frowned as she watched–but not because
she grudged the water,
only because she was waiting
to see we drank our fill and were
refreshed.

Don’t say, don’t say there is no water.
The fountain is there among its scalloped
grey and green stones,
it is still there and always there
with its quiet song and strange power
to spring in us,
up and out through the rock.
*
Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in.
—Leonard Cohen
*
“Remember that day in the woods
when everything was so dark, so dreary
and you were so terrifyingly alone?

How can it be that these are the same woods
and you the same soul
and everything shines so,
and everything is filled with life?” —Beth Weaver-Kreider
*
“Acquiring problems is a fundamental human need. It’s as crucial to your well-being as getting food, air, water, sleep, and love. You define yourself–indeed, you make yourself–through the riddles you attract and solve. The most creative people on the planet are those who frame the biggest, hardest questions and then gather the resources necessary to find the answers.” —Rob Brezsny


Gratitude List:
1. How everything shines so in autumn
2. Breathing
3. Stretching
4. Untangling threads
5. Listening for deeper rhythms

May we walk in Beauty!

How You Get There


I am signing off for a few days. I am going to the woods with some of my beloved community, to sing and laugh and play together, to walk the labyrinth in the woods, to listen for birdsong and look for tiny fungi in the leaf litter, to breathe and to wander. I will see you here in a few days.


“I remember nothing more about that night, except knowing that the enchantment of that moment would be with me forever, how what was burning so intensely in my heart could manifest itself in all of nature and how a song could thread itself through a needle, and stitch it all together, for one other-worldly, soul-aching, heart-breakingly hopeful glimpse of Nirvana.” –Excerpt of blog by Gloria Talcove-Woodward
*
“How you get there is where you’ll arrive.” –Cynthia Bourgeault
*
“When a person tells you that you hurt them, you don’t get to decide that you didn’t.” –Louis C. K.
*
“Never apologise for your sensitivity. It is the thinness of your skin which makes you brave. You are willing to live. You are willing to be alive.” –Dreamwork with Toko-pa
*
“Acknowledge your mission. Trust your path. Become your chosen destiny.” –Jamie Sams
*
“You are what you eat eats.” –Michael Pollan


Gratitude List:
1. Fridays: Week’s end, Faculty Hymn sing, the anticipation of rest and time in the woods with beloveds
2. Yesterday’s clouds, which were dragons and caves of flame and featherbeds
3. Teenagers and their enormous hearts
4. Monarch and dragonfly
5. Sharing laughter. What warmth of human connection when someone says, “Hey! Wanna hear a joke?” The social connection of good, healthy humor, how it bonds people together
6. (I am breaking the rules today and adding another) Playing with sentences. In a couple different classes right now, we are playing with sentence structure, copying the forms of professionally-written sentences, writing poems based on set formulae of absolute phrases and participial phrases. For some, it’s a bit tedious, but it has been delightful to watch the twinkle in the eyes of others when they begin to get it, to feel what it’s like to write a really elegant sentence.
7. (while I am at it. . .) Yesterday’s chapel talk by Brenda Martin Hurst. She reminded me of how much work has been done by so many to create a world and a church in which girls and women are valued as much as men and boys, and how much work there still is to do. I am grateful for my mother and others who worked with such love and courage and sheer will to begin to pave a way for women’s voices to be more fully heard in the Mennonite Church. This, more than anything, gives me great hope that some day we, too, can break through the wrongs against which we raise our voices.

May we walk in Beauty!

Waking Up

Today’s Writing Prompt from Auto Writing Prompt is to write a two sentence story with a mood change.

I have been walking through this fog, in this wood, since before there was a before.  Today I saw a shimmering silver light above the trees.

Gratitude List:
1. Deer on the hillside
2. Sharp-shinned hawk in a tree
3. Snowflakes
4. Baby wombats (google “baby wombat images”)
5. Mary Oliver’s “Starlings in Winter” (you can google that, too)

May we walk in Beauty!

Before

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Before we wandered these hills, other feet stood on the rocks, walked these woods, heard the way the breezes played through the poplars, watched the sun shoot its borning rays down into the hollows.

Before the parking lots and asphalt roads.  Before the houses and the malls, like a million million mushrooms gathered in every valley and on every hilltop. Before the tearing machines, the industrial fumes, the buzz and rumble of commerce.

Before the barbarians came, before the savages appeared with their guns, with hearts of stone seeking halls of gold.

This is not a new story, but somehow we keep missing the point, keep calling the wrong ones the savages, keep stepping up to the bench of divine justice, lawyers defending the mass murderer.  Before the first (or not the first) one sailed the ocean blue, before him, yes, there was war here.  Yes, sometimes there was famine and disease.

But before the big boats began to appear here, there were functioning and thriving societies here.  Families in villages and longhouses, in townsful of people.  There was hunting and fishing and foraging.  There was knowledge and wisdom.  There were councils and songs, dances and dreamings.  There was art and society, law and leisure.

Today I will not celebrate the ending of that world.  Today I will mourn for the world that was lost when “first contact” was made.  I will walk in the woods with my children.  I will forage for something to make into tea or supper.  I will stand on these stones with my feet and re-member what stories I can.

Gratitude List:
1.  The ancestors.  Of me.  Of this land.
2.  Telling the truth
3.  Re-wilding
4.  New dreamings
5.  Robins in the bosque

May we walk in Beauty.