Kite Strings

Greetings from Narnia! In these days, I remember that even in Narnia, things have often been unstable, have often felt dangerous and frightening. Remember the first time we went there, how we had to draw on all our ingenuity and courage to find our way through? How we needed help from others along the way, how we had to keep going even when we knew we were only children, and clearly not up to the task of saving the realm from an autocratic and capricious leader? That was a plague of winter rather than virus, but people were dying then, too, and people stayed in their houses, fearful of going out.

Here is this realm, we stay indoors in order to try to save more of us in the end, and we have these magical boxes that help us build communities even while we’re far apart. The fear is here, and sometimes I think I can smell it, as if I were one of our animal friends from Narnia. We have to figure out how to survive.

Right now, it’s really hard in Pennsylvania, as it might be where you live. We’ve been out of school for a week, learning through computers and figuring out the best ways to connect. Yesterday, Governor Wolf announced that all non-life-supporting businesses MUST close, which was sort of in effect already, but the clarifications mean that businesses that had closed to the public but still brought their employees in to work behind the scenes will need to keep their employees home. It makes sense, and I respect Governor Wolf’s decision. And yes, and yes, and yes. But it brings the hurt home to the hollow here because Jon won’t get any more hours at work until this is over. The shoe has dropped. We’ve got social and community safety nets, and all sorts of possible strategies to manage, so we’ll be okay. It just brings the harshness of it home, and makes the uncertainty more real, more looming. But we’ll be okay.

I hope you will be, too. It feels pretty dire at times, and every day brings something a little more dire. Searching for the little things that bring light and delight into the day becomes more important to me at times like this. Five things that make me grateful don’t cancel out the gnawing anxiety, and they don’t change the harsh reality. Still, they bring me balance. They help me to remember that my feet touch the ground, that I live in this body in this space. Despite the wild uncertainty of these days, some beautiful things are certain. Some wonders and delights go on. I choose to ground myself in those. I might catch the kite o my anxiety and go zooming off in tears and conjectures, but that string of connection to you, and to the Earth, and to all my Beloved Community–that’s real, and that’s strong, and that will bring me back to solid ground, safe.

Please, if you are finding yourself close to the edge of the panic or despair, reach out. Make a connection with someone out in the wide world. Find your kite strings–who and what holds you to the Earth?


Kite Strings of Gratitude:
1. You. Yesterday, a friend of mine asked to see her friends’ face on FB, and I cried, seeing all her lovely community, so I did the same, and all throughout the day, my friends posted their photos, sometimes with their children or their four-legged companions, and my day was so bright, despite the harsher news, despite the uncertainty.
2. Yesterday after lunch, I did the two-mile walk up and down the hill. The world was still misty, and it felt as though the the hollow itself was an empty bowl with a curtain of mist all around. The bowl was all that existed for a little while. Silence and birdsong. Distant traffic.
3. Yoga. It’s one of my coping strategies right now, both for grounding and for chasing the anxieties out of my lower back.
4. Yesterday during my Office Hour, a couple students from the dorm checked in and then walked the laptop around the dorm so I could say hello to everyone there. It made me sort of giddy. I really miss my students.
5. Yesterday morning, a great blue heron flew through the mist above the hollow. Even though my other blue friend is gone, others are still here.

Take care of each other.


“Although I am a woman of strong faith, I admit that my spirit sometimes struggled to overcome the heaviness of the tragedies around me. When heartbreak knocked on my door, I learned to let faith answer.” —Coretta Scott King


“On this day, the Vernal Equinox, we are in perfect balance between light and dark. Let us pray loving attention to the fragile sprouts of inner beauty which have survived the long dark of hibernation, despite all odds, to push up through the soil into the light. Let us honour the faith it has taken to believe in the invisible, upper world, where soon we will blossom into sprawling gardens overflowing with fruit. Let us hold our painful hearts with gentle hands today. Let us express our gratitude to the light that can only be found in the dark. Let us ask our vulnerability to shine radiantly with knowing that we are unfolding right on time.” —Toko-pa Turner


“The happiest people I’ve ever met, regardless of their profession, their social standing, or their economic status, are people that are fully engaged in the world around them. The most fulfilled people are the ones who get up every morning and stand for something larger than themselves. They are the people who care about others, who will extend a helping hand to someone in need or will speak up about an injustice when they see it.” ―Wilma Mankiller


“Frodo: I can’t do this, Sam.
Sam: I know. It’s all wrong. By rights we shouldn’t even be here. But we are. It’s like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger, they were. And sometimes you didn’t want to know the end. Because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened? But in the end, it’s only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer. Those were the stories that stayed with you. That meant something, even if you were too small to understand why. But I think, Mr. Frodo, I do understand. I know now. Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back, only they didn’t. They kept going. Because they were holding on to something.
Frodo: What are we holding onto, Sam?
Sam: That there’s some good in this world, Mr. Frodo… and it’s worth fighting for.”
—J.R.R. Tolkien? Or was this from the movie?


“In the end, we’ll all become stories.” —Margaret Atwood


“Love isn’t a state of perfect caring. It is an active noun like struggle. To love someone is to strive to accept that person exactly the way he or she is, right here and now.”
—Fred Rogers, born on this day in 1928

Dream Visitor

Fascinating dreams last night, strange, but not so unsettling as the night before. Doing yoga in a silent dawn, outside under the trees–this one happened at least twice. The main “problem” dream was this:

I look out the sliding glass door of the breezeway to see what looks like a cougar slipping through the grasses. When I get a better look at it, I can see tufty ears, like a lynx, and a golden spotted ruff, mane-like, on its shoulders. It’s taller, with thinner legs, proportionally, than a lynx, and almost wolf-like in shape.

I find it online by looking up maned wolf, and discover that there has been an escape of a young one (it isn’t actually a maned wolf–more feline) in the area. It comes up to me while I am in the garage, but I am too scared to let it approach (it is BIG), and I slip inside and close the door.

Later, I tell my friend about it and she says, “You should have welcomed it in. It needed your company.”

In my waking moments today, I looked up maned wolf and lynx, and it is nothing like either, but sort of a mishmash of the two. Come to think of it, it was very hyena-like, but the dream-memory keeps saying wolf-cougar-lynx. It’s a much better image to carry with me today than the previous night.


i thank You God for most this amazing
day: for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue dream of sky;and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes
(i who have died am alive again today,
and this is the sun’s birthday;this is the birth
day of life and love and wings;and of the gay
great happening ilimitably earth)
how should tasting touching hearing seeing
breathing any – lifted from the no
of all nothing – human merely being
doubt unimaginable You?
(now the ears of my ears awake and
now the eyes of my eyes are opened)
―e. e. cummings, read at our wedding 27 years ago today
*
“To live a creative life,
we must lose our fear of being wrong.”
―Joseph Chilton Pearce
*
“If music be the food of love, play on.” ―William Shakespeare
*
“At the still point, there the dance is.” ―T.S. Eliot
*
“To achieve great things, two things are needed: a plan and not quite enough time.” ―Leonard Bernstein
*
“rebellion: playing streamside with my babies, teaching them and letting them teach me that water is alive” ―Natasha Alvarez


Gratitude List:
1. Twenty-seven good years married to Jon. I know that this is not something to take for granted.
2. Trinidadian cooking. Oh. My. Callaloo. We had a peanut drink, chicken corn soup with cassava, doubles (a spongy bread with chickpea stew), and a chicken stew with buss-up-shut (Trinidadian bread that you use to eat the stew much in the way you use injera in Ethiopian food).
3. All those monarchs yesterday! Must be migration.
4. Used book sale
5. Music chapel today: We have some incredibly talented students.

May we walk in Beauty!

I Worried

worry

Like Mary Oliver, I can worry a lot.
Will the hummingbird eggs be viable?
Will the bats return every summer?
Will the children be safe?
Will the people like me?
Will I be sufficient to the tasks before me?

Have I given birth to children in the era before the end?
Will their adult lives be spent in a constant effort to survive the heat?
Will elephants become extinct in my lifetime?

Will courteous discourse die out?
Will fascism rise again?

Sometimes I can make my way to her last stanza, to see that it all comes to nothing. Simply giving it up is harder. But some days it helps to write it out. I go back to that Little Red Riding Hood image I posted a few days ago. As long as those worries are lurking out in the dark woods behind me somewhere, they could be anything. They become monsters beyond all proportion. Even if they’re big and scary like the wolf in that image, or like the looming monsters of terrorism and climate change, it’s somehow a comfort to finally look them in the eye. “You might be big, you scary old thing, but you have no power over me as long I can see you.”

Gratitude List:
1. Yesterday’s Reiki class. My cohort of co-students. Sarah, who teaches with such love and grace. Love and Life Force and the prayerful laying on of hands.
2. One more family hurrah before the end of summer. My marvelous siblings and their spouses. Their kids. My parents. I think that is probably a blessing not to be taken for granted. It’s not just that I love my parents, and my brother and sister and their spouses, but that I really like them. I like to spend time with them and converse with them. And the same goes for the nieces and nephews.
3. New stretches. I am adding some new stretches to my daily yoga movements. They’re harder than they were 20 years ago, even when I was thirty-five pounds heavier than I am now, but in just a week, I am feeling more and more comfort in the new stretches. I may be talking about yoga here, but I think this applies to quite a lot of the middle-aging process. I hate to sound slogan-y, but I think Use It Or Lose It might apply here. So yoga stretches and geography quizzes will be part of my regular established routine now.
4. Racing down the home stretch. Getting the papers and the space and the ideas all in order. Opening the heart to receive the new people and ideas who come my way. Developing and organizing the plans.
5. Sorting tomatoes. The tomatoes were late this year, but when they came in, they exploded off the vines. I haven’t done a lot of the sorting this summer–it used to be one of the tasks I owned, but now others often do it. Today might be the last time I sort them for the summer. I love lining up the colors, putting the paste tomatoes into their own bin, setting the ones with a little disease or damage in their own beautiful rows over on the extras table.

May we walk in Beauty!

Roots and Lune (or, A Lune in June)

 Welcome to the renovated Mockingbird Chronicles!Roots

Not a particularly interesting photo to inaugurate my new blog design, I know, and Google Collage randomized the pics, so it doesn’t automatically show the process.  Still, this is a project I want to document.  On Monday (Solstice), I went to my friend Sarah’s house and dug up a burdock.  I planted it out in the woods’ edge where it should help to break up the clay.  I took a piece of the root, and then harvested some curly dock root and some dandelion root.  In the bottom center, the roots are all washed and waiting to be peeled (curly dock top left, burdock bottom left, and dandelion to the right).  Right center: Peeled.  I let them dry overnight, and the next morning Jon said what I was thinking: “They look like bones.”  Burdock is top left, dandelion top right, and curly dock is in the bottom right.  The bottom left photo shows them in their jars after about four hours in the dryer (dandelion and curly dock on left, burdock on right). Now for tea.

Today’s prompt is to write a lune, which is sort of haiku-like, and can be on any subject.  It’s a syllable-count poem of 5/3/5.  These tiny lines of two or three (as in lune and cinquain) are really challenging.  I might try some of these that break the line endings, but I have a feeling that there needs to be a purposeful ending to break up the longer lengths.  It might be interesting to do a series of lune and haiku, interspersing them.  And a lune, of course, is moon-shaped, so it might be interesting to take the sense of that instead of the specific directions and do a 7/5/3/5/7, or even a 9/7/5/3/5/7/9.  Oooh.  The possibilities!

Harbor the wildness.
Look around.
Settle into green.

Gratitude List:
1. Shakti energy.  That is to say, the will and the fire to find the way and to dive in to the process.
2. The roadside flowers of late June: always Queen Anne’s Lace, Chicory, and Day Lily, but also Buttercup, Sweet Melilot, Hag’s Taper, and lavender bubbles of Vetch.
3. This question for pondering: What is your greatest joy?  I want to make sure that one category of my questions is about joy.  What brings you joy in this moment?  What memory brings you joy?  What will you do for yourself today to bring joy to yourself (or others)?  (Thank you, Miss Jan.)
4. Yoga.  Stretching the spine, balancing, breathing–they’re so much more than the simple acts of stretch and balance and breath.  Those are words that fill other spaces and other meanings throughout the day.
5. Date night tonight!  I don’t know when we last planned a date for just us. I feel so adult.

May we walk in Beauty!

Abecedarian

house

An Abecedarian Poem
for some young people I know

Always give Love the last word: You
belong here, you have a place here.
Carry that awareness inside,
deep within you, where you cannot
evade its holy truth. You were
formed for this world, for this moment.

Go, yes, into all the world, and
hold out your hands. Share that good news
in every place that you enter.
Jump with both feet into your life,
keeping hold of this, your mantra:
Love will always have the last word.

Maybe you struggle to hold on.
No one seems to understand you,
or it all seems futile.  Be the
person that you have been needing.
Question authority, yes, but
resist the pull of destruction.

Sometimes it will seem that you are
the only one who lives by Love.
Understand this: You’re not alone.
Voice your anxieties and pain.
Walk openly. You cannot be
x’ed out or erased.  You belong.

You have a role to play, full of
zeal. Let love have the final word.

Gratitude List:
1. Morning yoga, which is to say
2. stretching myself into new ways of thinking and being, which is to say
3. growing and transforming, which is to say
4. giving up old forms that no longer serve, which is to say
5. morning has arrived with such shine, such vigor.

May we walk in Love.

Conversing With Dragons

DSCN9023
Windflower

Gratitude List:
1. Reconnecting.  Reconnecting.  Reconnecting.
2. Crow’s Dragon.  You know the Ursula LeGuin idea about dragons?  They’re incredibly wise creatures–intelligent and compelling conversationalists, yet they’re tricksy and manipulative, and you have to be extremely careful or you may find yourself being subtly tricked into making promises you do not want to keep.  Someone has given me a dragon she drew that exquisitely captures this aspect of dragons.
3.  A clean house.  We need to have company more often.
4. Yoga.  I don’t do much, but I do a few minutes every day, and I continue to notice the small ways in which it helps me to be more connected with my body.  Balance, for one thing.
5. Windflowers.  Anemones.  Even more than the crocus, they ignore their boundaries.  They have much to say to me about respectfully blurring the edges of the box.

May we walk in Beauty!