Collegiality

This past week in Wooster, as I got to know the other teachers in my class, I began to think again of the beauty of collegiality, of having people who are all doing the same sort of work. I love my actual work colleagues, and I love the extended circle of colleagues, of people all working on similar tasks and issues in the world.

This morning my friend Tracey told me about a dream of hers where I had a cameo. During our short Messenger conversation, that word popped into my brain again: colleague. We have different professions, but we’re colleagues in this next layer of Work in the world, in the deep layers. When we talk together about what we’re doing to try to make change in the world, about how we’re involved in emphasizing and nurturing Goodness, we’re engaging in professional development as colleagues.

Another friend, someone I don’t know in real life, a woman I met through a mutual friend on Facebook, called me on the phone this week, just to talk about how we can create a network of people who support each other in this Work of pushing against the cruelty of the current US immigration policy of zero tolerance family separation. Her call reminded me that I am not just raging into the storm, but that I am part of a web of people doing the Work. Colleagues.

We’re colleagues, you and I, whenever we collaborate on this Work. I am greatly blessed in friends who willingly and tenderly mentor me in the Work, often without quite realizing that they are doing so. Let’s keep our hearts and eyes open for every opportunity for collegial collaboration in the coming weeks, every chance to build up the Staff in this job we have of making the world a better place.

This task ahead can feel so huge, so insurmountable. And I’m not entirely hopeful for the future, as least in the immediate sense. But we’re not going to be overcome while we sit passively by. We are rising, together, a host of colleagues in the Work of Goodness, like a great wave, to confront the powers that would destroy the vulnerable.

Take hands. Face into the wind. Stand strong. We will hold this ground together.


Gratitude List:
1. Colleagues in the Work
2. Mentors who teach by word and example
3. The young people who are rising
4. Family: blood and heart
5. The creative urge

May we walk in Beauty!

Ride the Wave


Today’s prompt is to write a poem titled __________ Wave.

Ride the Wave

If you watch closely
as it approaches
you can begin to feel
the energy enter your body
before the water
even takes shape.

Enter the sound and the color
before the matter engages you.

And suddenly you are part of it,
caught in the song of it,
bound in the curve and the crash
and the pull of the wave.


Gratitude List:
1. Speedwell and dandelion and grape hyacinth and violet and deadnettle. The little quiet beauties that catch your eye when you’re least expecting it. “Wake up now,” they say.
2. Spring in the air
3. People who put their souls and hearts into what they do. Art that is more than technical perfection, but is a reflection of humanity.
4. Getting some of the work done. Not nearly enough. But some. The load begins to lift.
5. Blooming. Flowers, children, teenagers, relationships, work, ideas.

May we walk in Beauty!

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!

Going Somewhere

Today’s prompt is to write a Going Somewhere poem:

This poem gets up before dawn.
It listens for the rustle of a thousand starlings
waking in the hollow, and follows them out into the grey.
This poem feels the splattering of rain on its face
and the tingle of autumn chill on the skin.
It keeps its face tilted into sky
as the leaves twirl and flutter
out of the morning sky.

This poem has somewhere to go.
It’s going where the geese go,
following those ragged lines
sprinkled across the sky.

When you wake at midnight,
you will hear it calling through the darkness,
urging you to adventure,
tempting you to take your risks
and pack your dreams into a bag
to follow where it leads.


“Poets are kind of like—it’s a bad metaphor, but—canaries in a coal mine. They have a sense for things that are in the air. Partly because that’s what they do—they think about things that are going on—but partly because they take their own personal experience and see how that fits in with what they see in the world. A lot of people might think that poetry is very abstract, or that it has to do with having your head in the clouds, but poets, actually, walk on the earth. They’re grounded, feet-first, pointing forward. They’re moving around and paying attention at every moment.” —Don Share
*
“This is precisely the time when artists go to work. There is no time for despair, no place for self-pity, no need for silence, no room for fear. We speak, we write, we do language. That is how civilizations heal.” —Maya Angelou
*
“We need poets to change the world.” —Justin Trudeau
*
“…Accept what comes from silence.
Make the best you can of it.
Of the little words that come
out of the silence, like prayers
prayed back to the one who prays,
make a poem that does not disturb
the silence from which it came.”
—from “How to Be a Poet (to remind myself)” by Wendell Berry
*
Morning Prayer
by Phillip Newell
In the silence of the morning
your Spirit hovers over the brink of the day
and a new light pieces the darkness of the night.
In the silence of the morning
life begins to stir around me
and I listen for the day’s utterances.
In earth, sea and sky
and in the landscape of my own soul
I listen for utterances of your love, O God.
I listen for utterances of your love.


Gratitude List:
1. The weekend, right on time
2. Language that builds bridges, that invites conversation, that includes spaces for listening
3. Autumn skies
4. How good it feels to be warm after I have been chilled
5. This wall of photos of our ancestors

May we walk in Beauty!

Remembering How to Dream

“I would like to paint the way a bird sings.”
–Claude Monet
*
“If you truly love nature, you will find beauty everywhere.” –Vincent van Gogh
*
“Do unto those downstream as you would have those downstream do unto you.” –Wendell Berry
*
Every step you take is a doorway to somewhere new,
a choice between what was and what will be.
Do not fear the darkness behind you
nor the mists that rise in your path.
Pause on the threshold a moment.
Take a deep and aching breath,
and straighten your shoulders.
Release the past with gratitude
for all that it has taught you,
and step forward in strength and beauty.
–Beth Weaver-Kreider
*
Mary Oliver:
“Soon now, I’ll turn and start for home.
And who knows, maybe I’ll be singing.”


Gratitude List:
1. Rest
2. Dreaming
3. Work
4. Play
5. Silence

May we walk in Beauty!

So Many Fragile Things

“If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.” ―J.R.R. Tolkien
*
“The day will come when, after harnessing space, the winds, the tides, and gravitation, we shall harness for God the energies of love. And on that day, for the second time in the history of the world, we shall have discovered fire” ―Teilhard de Chardin
*
“There are so many fragile things, after all. People break so easily, and so do dreams and hearts.”
―Neil Gaiman, Fragile Things: Short Fictions and Wonders
*
“Grace met us right there. It meets you right where it finds you, but it does not leave you where it found you. It moves you toward breath; moves you towards things being a little bit better: wow. Grace WD-40. Grace is water wings. Grace makes you shake your head with wonder, and laugh and cry.” ―Anne Lamott
*
To Be Of Use
by Marge Piercy

The people I love the best
jump into work head first
without dallying in the shallows
and swim off with sure strokes almost out of sight.
They seem to become natives of that element,
the black sleek heads of seals
bouncing like half-submerged balls.

I love people who harness themselves, an ox to a heavy cart,
who pull like water buffalo, with massive patience,
who strain in the mud and the muck to move things forward,
who do what has to be done, again and again.

I want to be with people who submerge
in the task, who go into the fields to harvest
and work in a row and pass the bags along,
who are not parlor generals and field deserters
but move in a common rhythm
when the food must come in or the fire be put out.

The work of the world is common as mud.
Botched, it smears the hands, crumbles to dust.
But the thing worth doing well done
has a shape that satisfies, clean and evident.
Greek amphoras for wine or oil,
Hopi vases that held corn, are put in museums
but you know they were made to be used.
The pitcher cries for water to carry
and a person for work that is real.
*
“The books that the world calls immoral are the books that show the world its own shame.” ―Oscar Wilde
*
“No single voice will be able to take control if everyone in the circle has a voice.” ―Kay Pranis
*
” I look up at God every day, and I say, “You are SUCH a show-off.” I have to shake my head and laugh. Maybe God does, too. If He or She does not have a sense of humor, I am doomed.” ―Anne Lamott


Gratitude List:
1. The protesters, showing us how to make courageous choices
2. In the new day, the crisis of the previous night pales
3. Today’s songs, especially this line: “. . .unseen wings, protecting, hide you.”
4. Catching up
5. Living with cats

May we walk in Beauty!

Hidden Trails


Trail across Cabin Creek, where the foxes and coyotes and deer cross the creek and enter the bosque. That’s poison ivy on the cherry tree at the front left–poison ivy is the protector of wild places.

Gratitude List:
1. Lots of work getting done
2. Sheltered places
3. Sleep
4. Voices of sanity and calm amid the clamor
5. Making plans for solitude and rest

May we walk in Beauty!

A Long Weekend

stones-or-eggs Eggs or stones?

Gratitude List:
1. Hooray! Pippi Prius can be fixed. It took a while to get the details worked out with the insurance company, and the damage was apparently almost equal to her value, but they’ve agreed to go ahead and do it.
2. My colleagues. Yesterday was an in-service day, and much as I always wish I could just have those days to decompress or catch up on work, I always come away feeling energized and inspired for the work ahead–also, grateful for the earnest, positive, playful energy of my colleagues.
3. Our school superintendent, Richard Thomas. Since he announced his coming retirement last winter, it’s been disconcerting to think of the future of the school without him. He has helped this school system to shape a vision of itself as a community, as a place where students and teachers and staff work to become our best selves, to create a place of shalom. Yesterday we had a chance to try to tell him a little bit about what he means to us.
4. The Search Committee, who had a huge task in a short time. They listened well, heard our concerns and our hopes for the future, and found someone who seems to have vision and determination and savvy enough to step into the superintendent’s role.  They have been careful to be confidential when confidentiality has been necessary, while staying as transparent as possible. Yesterday they carefully led us through their process of the past six months and shared the ways in which our new superintendent fits the values and ideals that we gave them.
5. Today. I can work all day to catch up. I didn’t get as much done last weekend as I wanted. I plan to go to school on Monday with no late grading hanging over my head.

Shalom.

Finding the Questions

imag1876
I spent last week quietly anticipating another walk of the Camp Hebron Labyrinth. On my Saturday morning walk own to the woods, I kept thinking how different the paths and the distances seemed in just a week. The thought appeared in my head: “It’s a different journey now.” Even though I am walking a similar path and toward a different destination, the journey keeps shifting and changing. Just moments after I had begun to ponder what I meant by thinking that, I arrived at the labyrinth to find that a tree had fallen across it.

I recently found this piece of paper on which I wrote, in the summer of 2015, a series of examen-type questions. I think I probably have already written these in the blog, but I am going to put them here again so that I can ponder them this week. I wouldn’t use more than five of them a day, probably, and for similar ones, like the first four, I would spread them out over days, to see how the different ways of asking almost the same question evokes different internal responses.

How did Mystery encounter you today?
How did you encounter Mystery today?
How were found by Mystery?
How did God/dess seek you?

What awakened you?
What vision brought your spirit awake?
What nudged you? (Or nudged you forward?)
Where does your heart sit?
What gave you wings?
What do you take on your journey?
What do you tuck into the corners?

What quickened within you?
What brought your senses (or your heart, your spirit, your brain) alive?
What do you take deeper?
What do you take into prayer?

What is the weight that you carry?

And not that I am thinking about it again, I’ll add some more from today’s heart:
What itches? What makes you uncomfortable?
What feels unsettled?
What skin are you shedding?
What muscles are you stretching?

Gratitude List:
1. Bridges, and bridge-building language and actions
2. Gathered Community
3. Getting the work organized, making a plan
4. Treasuring each other
5. Waking up–I am struggling with the actual physical process this morning. How much more intense it can be to wake up in other ways. May we always be open to the pull to wake further, to bring our dreams into the wakeful spaces.

May we walk in Beauty!

Lay Down Your Heart

fins
By Monday, the gills have expanded and developed, the underside of the universe.

Working up a poem that I wrote a year ago:

Lay down your heart, sister
for one mist-laden moment
on the bank of the river
where your ancestors wandered.

It will not end the clamor
or stop the blood that spills
over rocks in the deserts.

It will not offer you answers
to the why of war
or end the stench of battles.

Still, the waters may offer you
questions instead, questions
that will create the riddles
to draw you onto the path again
despite the darkness
that surrounds you.

Gratitude List:
1. I have been given this day in which to do my work.
2. How emotion settles in the body. I know this can be unsettling, too. I read something yesterday by Darshana Avila, about sensing the way that happiness and sadness settle in the body, noticing where they are, what they do in the body, not judging them or their presence as “good” or “bad.” She noted that when we reflect on the way emotions are sensed in the body, happiness and sadness don’t always feel that different.  They just are.  It reminds me of Rumi welcoming all comers to the guesthouse.
3. New questions. I have to ask Anne Marie sometime to remind me of the entire list she offered in church on Sunday, a series of questions that comes from the peacebuilding work of the Great Lakes Initiative in eastern Africa.  The ones that stick with me are, “What do you lament?” and “What does joy look like?” I like the way the questions are phrased, instead of simply asking what makes you sad or happy–which are equally valid questions.
4. This one feels a little petty because it’s so material, but it has wider implications for me: Yesterday I found some dresses at Columbia Re-Uzit, and then I drove past my friend’s farm stand, and she was also having a yard sale, and I bought some of her clothes. So now I feel like I have the outfitting necessary for the coming school season. It’s one more thing off my plate, accomplished with minimal effort and thought–that’s the piece I am grateful for. That, and the lovely colors and textures, and the thought that I will be wearing some things that my beautiful and gracious friend has worn. In that context, clothes are more than just clothes, you know?
5. What shall I pull out for this last one? I do not yet have a Thing of Beauty on the list, other than my lovely new dresses. Oh, here it is: the bouquet of lisianthus blossoms my mother brought to me yesterday to have on the table today as I am working on my class preparations. Deep purple-violet and vibrant red-violet. (My parents brought me flowers, AND they are caring for my children for a couple days so that I can focus solely on the preparations for school.)

May we walk in Beauty.