Making It Matter

My word for this year will be Matter. Matter, the primal stuff, the essence, the source. Matter, from mater, which is mother, which is source. What matters? What manifests? What incarnates and comes into being? Matter is that which is of consequence, of significance, of importance. Material, substance, that which has form.

My work for the year is to take the idea and make it real, to materialize it, to manifest it, to enmatter it. The work of the year will matter: it will be important, it will manifest, it will go from idea to reality.

The dreams that have accompanied me this month have been about approaching with curiosity ideas and tasks which make me uncomfortable, about stepping with courage into the work that approaches.

There was the dream about the young Ellegua who beckoned me to wide green field where we greeted a flock of vultures. Their feathers were surprisingly soft.

There was the dream about the three girls (Graces? Goddesses? Muses?) who led me forward, and laughed kindly at my timidity.

There was the dream where I was told two times (and very distinctly): “This is how you will begin to do battle with the big lie.” And then there was no further direction. How? How am I to battle the lie?

There was a dream about bears which turned themselves into trees. And then the trees turned into birds and flew away.

There was the dream of a blue sky and some sort of hazy philosophical discussion, and someone gesturing around the vast bowl of blue, “It all makes sense, unless you factor in the Goddess. If you add the Goddess to the mix, it all becomes a mystery.”

What a hodgepodge of ideas and images! They’ll be in my toolbox as I contemplate what it means to make the ideas matter in the coming season.

Do you choose a word or a phrase or an idea or image to accompany into the New Year? How do you find it?


Gratitude List:
1. Good movies. We watched Amal last night on Netflix. We hadn’t heard of it, but Jon was looking through the Rotten Tomatoes movies with 100% ratings and found it. I concur with the rating. It was simply sweet, and deeply profound, like an excellent short story. You should watch it, too.
2. A lovely quiet day with Joss yesterday. It was just the two of us, playing games and reading. My voice is hoarse from reading.
3. The house is still clean. I can still think.
4. Dreams that light the way.
5. Blue skies and mystery.

May we walk in Beauty!


“There are years that ask questions, and years that answer.”
—Zora Neale Hurston
***
I see her walking
on a path through a pathless forest
or a maze, a labyrinth.
As she walks, she spins
and the fine threads fall behind her
following her way,
telling
where she is going,
telling
where she has gone.
Telling the story.
The line, the thread of voice,
the sentences saying the way.
—Ursula K. Le Guin (from “The Writer On, and At, Her Work)

A Very Simple Secret


Today’s prompt is to write a self-destruct poem:

When you are finished reading this poem,
it will self-destruct. The words
will fly outward, shards of ideas
exploding, lacerating skin,
feelings and notions piercing the soul,
shredding elevated egos
and mangling worn-out theories.
You will not be able to escape
into the house of another poem,
for all poetry is designed to explode,
to burst, to shatter into a thousand colors,
like the fracturing of light.


“The word is the making of the world.” —Wallace Stevens
*
“Through the empty branches the sky remains.
It is what you have.”
—Rainer Maria Rilke
*
“Our task must be to free ourselves by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature and its beauty.” —Albert Einstein
*
“I must remind you that starving a child is violence. Suppressing a culture is violence. Neglecting school children is violence. Punishing a mother and her family is violence. Discrimination against a working man is violence. Ghetto housing is violence. Ignoring medical need is violence. Contempt for poverty is violence.” —Coretta Scott King
*
“When you feel the suffering of every living thing in your own heart, that is consciousness.”
—Bhagavad Gita
*
“And now here is my secret, a very simple secret: It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.”
―Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince
*
“The most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or touched, they are felt with the heart.”
―Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince
*
“Just that,” said the fox. “To me, you are still nothing more than a little boy who is just like a hundred thousand other little boys. And I have no need of you. And you, on your part, have no need of me. To you I am nothing more than a fox like a hundred thousand other foxes. But if you tame me, then we shall need each other. To me, you will be unique in all the world. To you, I shall be unique in all the world….”
―Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince
*
“It is such a mysterious place, the land of tears.”
―Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince
*
“And when your sorrow is comforted (time soothes all sorrows) you will be content that you have known me. You will always be my friend. You will want to laugh with me. And you will sometimes open your window, so, for that pleasure . . . And your friends will be properly astonished to see you laughing as you look up at the sky! Then you will say to them, ‘Yes, the stars always make me laugh!’ And they will think you are crazy. It will be a very shabby trick that I shall have played on you…”
―Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince
*
“Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,
you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.
You must wake up with sorrow.
You must speak to it till your voice
catches the thread of all sorrows
and you see the size of the cloth.”
―Naomi Shihab Nye


Gratitude List:
1. How dreams keep revealing themselves
2. How the leaves fly down from the sky
3. How children see things that adults miss
4. How the work gets done
5. How starlings move as a single bird

May we walk in Beauty!

Seeking Mystery


The Mysteries of Mary Magdalene, painted by Andrea Solario, Piero do Cosimo, Domenico Fetti

I have been pondering the first and last lines of my Magician poem all day, and thought I might try to make something patterned and structured and rhymed, but the day has gotten away from me, and free verse is easier for the riff. It means that I do not often try my hand at more challenging forms during April and November, because I am caught up in the dailiness of school and grading. I’ll have to give myself some formal poem assignments for the summer.

Listen to the wisdom of the sage.
“What is language, but a kind of magic?
Here am I, in my own organism, my tower of Self,
and you there in your own lonely keep,
and how shall we bridge the gap between us
but by language? These webs of sound
we string together, we cast them through sky,
drawing out threads of meaning,
as with a wand, fiery threads of sense.

“We build this bridge on air,
scratch symbols on a page with feathers,
and stories flow like water between us,
borne on gossamer strands
of word on word on word.
We manage and tend our loneliness
by weaving cloths of language.
How can we find each other in the shadow
but for the flow of speech we offer
and the magic of these words upon the page?

TOMORROW’S PROMPT (April 4):
Today the Fool met the Magician, a mentor who taught her something of the nature of illusion and magic, of her power to work with the elements of earth and air and water and fire. Tomorrow, she will meet another mentor: The High Priestess, who will invite her to learn of the Mysteries. Perhaps this is Mary Magdalene, contemplating the skull, or offering the grail, or reading her book. The priestess is the keeper of the doorway of the most sacred of the mysteries, and so she is a challenger as well as a mentor. The Fool must prove herself before she enters the realm of the priestess. Tomorrow’s poem will be about Mystery.

Gratitude List:
1. Refried Beans. Such a basic comfort food. Add salsa, hot sauce, and a little sour cream, and it’s a delightful bean porridge for a chilly night.
2. Feedback. Sometimes it just nice to know what other people think. Not to validate, but to get a sense of whether people perceive me as I perceive myself.
3. Thoughtful guidelines for living more deliberately and authentically with our technology. That was a good chapel this morning.
4. How language links us.
5. Seeking wonder and awe. Preserving the mystery.

May we walk in Beauty!

Word, Wisdom, and Way

“Alertness is the hidden discipline of familiarity.” –David White (via Toko-pa Turner)

In the dream, I am visiting a doctor. She is surprised that I still have my uterus and recommends a hysterectomy. I am relieved in the dream to be rid of the burden of it.

What change is on the horizon? Perhaps something of the first part of my adult life needs to be relinquished in order for me to find ease and relief for the next stages of the journey. My womb was the soil in which my four children were grown. Even the two it was unable to keep for the full term, it struggled to hold onto even when it was clear that they were unviable. The two that grew to full term, it refused to relinquish. The story of my womb has been one of not letting go, of holding on even when hope is lost.  Perhaps the next stage of my life will be one of learning to let go of hope, to release hold of my identity as fertile soil and life-giver.

That seems to be the way of it: At the turnings of our lives, we are asked to give up something that has served us, that has given us great gifts, in order to find the wisdom that approaches when we have met the challenges and tasks of the next stage. Like the child in the woods in every fairy tale, we leave behind an innocence, an old identity that has served us, and pick up a new name, a new skin to travel in.

Gratitude List:
1. Auntie and Uncle Goose paddling on the postage-stamp of a pond.
2. That grove of trees in the field on the detour. I complain about Ducktown being closed for bridge repairs, but the new road offers delights of its own: the way the sun shines through the grove, the view of the ridge where I make my home, the horses, the field of giant round hay bales.
3. That song this morning–the Prokeimenon (I love that word), with the high A, and the brave voices who sang it.
4. The way clouds create the perspective of distance, diminishing toward the horizon.
5. The Word, the Wisdom, and the Way

May we walk in Beauty!

The Book

winterfarm

The Twelve Nights are finished. I might have resisted this waking up, resented this leaving of the cocoon, but for the bright surprise of the snow, the sun enlivening it to an almost unbearable shine, the way the Light shone so forcefully on this Epiphany day.

I have a jumble of words and ideas tumbling about in my brain from the past two weeks: Intuition, Birds of Prey (fierceness?), Aunt Lizzie (rampant creativity?), and the Book. As I made my Vision Board last week, the phrases “Unchain the book” and “Unlock the book” came into my head. And last night I woke in the middle of the night, and the phrase “Use the book” was skittering around in my brain.

So this Year my word will be Book. I tell my students that their lives are the stories of their own making. Some parts seem to be written for us, but even so, we write the meaning of the events that occur. We choose how the story is recorded within us, how we interpret our lives. This year, I will be the writer of my story. I will carry the satellite words of intuition and fierceness and creativity with me as well, and let them inform the story I create, both with my life and in my writing.

Gratitude List:
1. The young years. This is a wistful gratitude. With every passing day, I am noticing the baby days expiring on my youngest. I am gathering all I can of each tiny bit of baby sweetness into the jar of my heart to save for later. Here I am, Winnie the Pooh, standing at the edge of the Hunderd Aker Wood, watching Christopher Robin recede into the world. My heart is so full of the pride and the pain of it, the love and the loss of it.
2. I am grateful for their growing up, too. I treasure each new grown-up thing, how they think and wonder. Their curiosity. Their desire to know, to learn, to create.
3. Snow. Wasn’t that lovely? I love snow. It makes the cold feel worthwhile. It makes the winter feel real. It gives the dreamtime a blanket.
4. Those stripey clouds on the way home from school today. My carpool mates and I decided that they looked like the lines on a piece of notebook paper, just waiting for a poem. Or the ribs of a god (we’re listening to The Heroes of Olympus on our journeys). Or the oars of a great flying Viking ship.
5. The relationship of words to music. The musicality of language.

May we walk in Beauty!

Last Night of Twelvenight

jack-frost

Tonight is the last night of Twelvenight, the last of the Days of Christmas. Tomorrow morning the Light dawns. The Magi arrive. Watch for the Aha! what is waiting within you to be discovered?

Meanwhile, here in the dark nights of Winter, I have been ruminating on dreams and images, the ideas and words that have been floating around me in the days since Solstice, searching for my word for the coming year. I have some ideas: there are the recent frequent family references to my Aunt Lizzie along with her appearance in my dreams, there’s the eagle that keeps appearing at different places on my way to and from Lancaster, the calls to listen to my intuition, The Fool, the fire imagery. I’ll see if tonight’s dreams bring any sorting or synthesis. Tomorrow I find my 2017 Word.

Gratitude List:
1. That eagle again–this time sitting in a tree at Sam Lewis State Park as we passed on our way home this evening.
2. This sleeping thing seems to be working better lately. So much better. Of course, less disturbed sleep means fewer remembered dreams, but I’ll take the restedness over the dream-messages at this point.
3. I can’t stop writing about the sky. So orange this morning–deep, deep, glowing russet–and this afternoon a golden stair of light spiraling down through cloud.
4. Saying no, sorting, keeping what stuff is mine, but only that stuff.
5. The power of poetry to get students talking about emotions and internal landscapes.

May we walk in Beauty!