Saturday, December 27, 2008

Untie her and let her go free

I went to Mass yesterday-- a good move on my part. I'd been out wandering about without specific aim when I realized it was nearly noon and Xavier was only a block or two away. While sitting in the Mary Chapel, the pastor approached me about how much he enjoyed the Isaiah reading I did for Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve. 'Mesmerizing' was the word he used. The director of music had already told me that he was blown away.

I'm glad the emotion came through...because that is how I hear those readings-- alive, breathing, lifted free from the page and allowed to take shape in sound, allowed to splash across the canvas of hearing and feeling and leave image and movement hanging in the midst long enough to be felt and recognized but also light and loose enough to disperse and become a part of the larger whole.

It was a place to set myself free from feeling as bound as I have lately--bound by knots of my own making that appeared in threads of my life that I thought I had gently looped. It is nigh unto impossible to disentangle one's own knots in situations like that, I have discovered of late. Beginning? End? Which part to let go so that something else can be pulled through?

The reading that night had a lasting effect over these past days... to fill with Word, to taste the goodness, form it, free it...this is necessary nourishment for me that loosens my heart, mind, and body. It helps me regain that flexibility of spirit that allows for bending and bowing and dancing anew, unknotted and freer--though still with threads that dangle and promise to try again.

I know soemthing that helps, though, when that happens. Allowing it is an amazing, humbling thing that leaves me thankful, and though you'd be hard pressed to tell by reading this, without Word of my own-- until it returns in honeyed wonder.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Boxing Day--Rev Gals

What Five Things did today bring for me?

1. A day long mental hum of Good King Wenceslaus!

2. A poem for an exhausted friend (see below if interested)

3. A walk on the streets of Manhattan where I encountered a mother trying to apply Chapstick to her kid's lips and who finally had to say, "Look, you can sing, but you can't move your lips, honey."

4. A modestly better mood than the one I've been in the last couple of weeks

5. Bonus points of personal satisfaction for doing a good job translating the poem before checking online and human resources.

Not too bad.

Gift for a Friend

Written this afternoon for an exhausted friend...heard while wandering the streets of irony lost there.



center down,
my friend,

to where gravity
falls away
into my arms;

where efforts
to be other
are gloriously pointless;

where stones
still spark inside

and rain
will teach you
how to be free.


La Invitación


céntrate en tus raíces
amiga mía.

céntrate donde ya
no hay la gravedad-
céntrate en mis brazos;

donde los intentos
de ser otra son
gloriosamente inútiles;

donde las piedras
todavía chispean

y la lluvia
te enseñará

a ser libre.


Monday, December 22, 2008

Christmas, 2008

Christmas 2008


Unfold the seasonal petals
of your snow-dusted bursting bloom!

Reveal to the clamoring
hungering world
my warmly fleshly
glory-bright birth!

Then ah—listen!
Soon follows
the clear benediction
of a cold bell chiming.

Hodie! Venite adoremus,
Christus natus est!

(with thanks to Gwendolyn Brooks who wrote, "Conduct your blooming in the noise and whip of the whirlwind.")


Saturday, December 13, 2008

Advent III

Advent III, 2008


Despite, or rather
perhaps because of,
a weighty preponderance
of wide-spread reasons
for acting otherwise,
we are called to rejoice.

Called to find a crumble,
how ever fine,
of pungent and potent
spice-infused gaudete.

(It settles, wanting sifting, I’ve found,
in the omnipresent dust of living
that tucks in pocket corners.)

Denying nothing,
I am called to turn out
my pleats and folds,
shaking free
the perfumed and flaring
glitter of hopeful wonder
that gathers there
waiting to be disturbed.

poem ©MperiodPress

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Free Indulgences

By nature, I am an early person...and I had the most wonderful morning this morning because of it.

After several sections of the paper, a large mugful of dark roasted Tanzanian Jubilee coffee, and a bowl of oatmeal, I headed to church for a meeting of liturgical ministers. I arrived an hour ahead of time and discovered that liturgical ministers were not the only ones meeting today. There was a retreat being set up in the Mary Chapel, there was a meeting of parents desiring baptism for their children in the West Room, and there was something going on in the dining room downstairs, affectionately known as the "Lower Church." One of the women setting up the retreat told me that my meeting was going to be in the main body of the church.

I pushed through one of the doors and came upon what felt like the simplest, grandest, surprise party. An empty church, space I know well and dearly love, lit only by the sun. For a while I sat on the steps in front of the high altar and simply drank in details I miss dwelling on each Sunday because I am ordinarily focused on the people in the pews. I noticed statues on the second tier that I had never seen--especially the one on the west side, second from the back, that was my marker of time passing as I sat in contemplation. The sunbeam coming through a stainglass window on the opposite side fell precisely on the statue and gradually moved up the pedestal, the feet, and robes, to land on the face of the prophet. I like to think he smiled on this cold winter's day.

I so enjoyed this change of perspective! I decided to take further advantage of this gift and indulge in more alterations of my usual viewing points. Coat tucked under my head, I gave in to a long held desire to lie on my back about 3/4 the way down the main aisle and gaze at the ceiling and the side arches. I wanted to take a long look at where the sound goes each Sunday. I hear and feel the sounds of Church wash over me, wash through me, there on ground level, but my ear and heart also tell me that the singing, the reading, the praying, rises. I have heard the sound that hangs above when the notes have ceased below, when the syllables have already been proclaimed, and the prayers set free. What space is it that has absorbed such praise, such petition, for more than a century? While gazing, I also noticed that all of the paintings on the ceiling are oriented to be right side up from the congregation's point of view, not from the view you'd have standing at the front looking out. I found that little detail surprisingly considerate for those whose attention tends to roam.

I have to say that I felt the most peaceful as I have felt in a while, lying there with my head nestled on my fleece, my ankles crossed, and my hands stuck in my jeans pockets.

I knew the time for my meeting was getting close and more people would be coming in...more people who may or may not quite understand why I was so very happy to by stretched out on a floor in the middle of a large, empty space. The director of music came in first. I sat up, greeted him and, so full of the joy of this gift, told him what I had been doing. He smiled and said "That's really cool."

It really was.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Advent II, 2008

Advent II 2008

Comfort, O Comfort

Gather them! With incensed steam—
a mug of bone warming hope
swizzled with the tingle
of a mulling-spiced dream!

Feed them! With the marrow of faith—
rich from the flavors
of steeping in life; fat
with succulent beauty!

Comfort them! With a breadth of love—
yeasty, dense, and prone to rising;
with a soft and nestling heart,
comfort, o comfort, my people.

poem- ©MperiodPress


From the RevGals...An Advent Friday Five

Five Advent longings

time alone

gentle, warm company

to be carried away by song and Word

to be grounded in the need of here and now

the adventure of life in fullness

Monday, December 1, 2008

Whole Heart

After trying for three months to find a date and time, I had brunch after Mass yesterday with a friend. We spoke of our recent experiences working abroad in Mexico and Myanmar, we spoke of God and choice and light and Advent and the fact that the world is a mess but full of God as well and can be no other way. In several ways it was a most restorative encounter with someone who also loves God deeply and widely and speaks of that love with wholeness and ease.

At one point we were speaking of the Advent call to watch, to attend, to notice and in the course of our walking that ribbon of consideration and trying to describe our steps, I was reminded of a paragraph I'd written lately for something else.

"One of the greatest attractions I have to Jesus is his ability to hold full knowledge of that which is profoundly human, with all of its contradictions, confusions, and mishaps right along side that which is most glorious and then say of the whole, “this is what is most real and true and where you will find my heart.” For me, community is one rich place where I have had this opportunity and experience—to hold both the earthly and the divine together and say “This is what is most real and where I choose to put myself.” I am called to grow there—in strength, in generosity, in kindness, in patience, in love… and I am called to receive the same from my sisters. It is not always easy, but I do not think it is supposed to be. The best I hope to do is be one who can hold the already and my sense of the not yet together to say Here are we, fallible and wonderful, and here is God, glorious and merciful, and that is what is most real. And to act in such a way that others can tell that I am trying to do that. "

May our hands and hearts and senses be open this Advent. Open to a world alive with both death and life, a world created in love, and please God, tending that bit of tinder and kindling to keep us warm when night looms.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Advent I, 2008

Advent I 2008


Now is the time
of star-crisp invitation
to draw in, center down,
toward the gathering fire
and watch the becoming of silence.

This until,
when sparks singe the lowing
of winter’s wind,
there comes
the nascent crackling of joy.

poem- ©MperiodPress


Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Ginger Naps

I just took a pie out of the oven. A pie and two custards, actually, as I had too much pumpkin filling for the crust. The pie turned out wonderfully--the custards a winning experiment. Best of all, though, was what happened while they were baking.

The house was quiet and I was alone in the kitchen.

After stirring up the pie filling, I tucked into the corner chair/step-stool, a treasured perch of several in the house, leaned back against the wall, and napped gently to the smell of cinnamon, cloves, and ginger while next to a warm oven with a window open to the cool behind me.

It was a most welcome and needed embrace. School is out until next week but the freedom is filled with a significant writing project that I need to begin these days. I wonder if the naps are my body and mind's way of helping me make the transition to writing mode-- a way to put the kids and the chaos of school aside and turn my face again toward the muse, toward the spirit, adopting anew the feeling of being loved like no other, the feeling of being a delight and beholding a delight. The feeling of living inside the Word and trying to write an opening for others as well as marking my own journey for myself.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Notes from a stairwell

From my notebook writing before liturgy...

"9:51 AM. Tucked into the stairwell above the entrance to the main church level, waiting for the 9:00 Mass to let out but not in any hurry. I am quite comfortable, actually...warm, pleasantly secure, and in a position to hear and see much. Listening to the cantor sing during communion-- "Soon and Very Soon" which blended into the Taize "Jesus Remember Me." So lovely and so smooth the pieces fitting into one another. It occurs to me as I sit here, listenign to bits of the Family Faith program going on in the Mary Chapel, watching people begin to gather in the foyer, and hearing the movement that indicates the close of Mass, that a stairwell might not be where most would choose to perch while picking up a pen and paper. What is it about this place that speaks to me of being at home? Hmm.

I think some is that it is a bit worn and rubbed down at the edges from years of use and prayer. The whole building. The steps are scooped out in the middle from a hundred plus years of ascent and descent, the pews are darkened and worn to a shine. Yes, I find God in the broken-in-ness. That, actually, is where I most readily find God. There is a depth, a longevity, a history, to what is broken-in. A comfort in one's own being. Perhaps it is me who is becoming broken-in and more comfortable...

Funny, this makes me think of one of my favorite words...glory. There is a depth there for me too. A history, a richness that comes with living, with seeing, tasting, knowing, feeling. The glory of God made known in me? Deeper and deeper it reaches to draw out the story, the richness, the full-being-ness. Instead of dust to dust, perhaps instead glory unto glory--from the creative, story-filled, loving, depths of God to broken-in and flexible, stretchable, open humanity and then back again to the heart of all that is most wondrous, most just, most compassionate, most glorious..."

Mixing it Up

Friday five from the Rev Gal Pals!

1) Do you have a food processor? Can you recommend it? Which is to say, do you actually use it?

Have access to one--but prefer chopping by hand. There is something satisfying about wielding a knife and watching the pile of ingredients mound.... there's also the sensory experience--the feel of the knife slicing, the sound, the juices, scents, and textures all immediately at hand.

2) And if so, do you use the fancy things on it? (Mine came with a mini-blender (used a lot and long ago broken) and these scary disks you used to julienne things (used once).)


3) Do you use a standing mixer? Or one of the hand-held varieties?

Hand mixer when necessary--stiff arm and a good spoon otherwise. I do admit to coveting my Grandmother's vintage KitchenAide, though.

4) How about a blender? Do you have one? Use it much?

Now we're talking! Love the blender--especially when it comes to soup. Nothing better for mixing-ing/smoothing into creamy goodness. The first time I used our new one, though, whoa! Everything and every one within a block's radius (give or take) was baptized. Tomato soup every which way. Let's just say a new motor is far, far more potent than one, say, twenty years old.

5) Finally, what old-fashioned, non-electric kitchen tool do you enjoy using the most?

We have a fabulous wooden... implement. I think it must have been a spoon at one point, but the round edges have flattened some and it is now more of a gentle triangle on a handle. Terribly practical for picking things up and flipping, scooping and scraping. And, nothing, nothing, nothing, beats a good sharp chef knife, a heavy bottom dutch oven, and a cast iron skillet.

Monday, November 17, 2008

11/18 The Feast of Saint Rose Philippine Duchesne

A homily for the Feast of Saint Rose Philippine Duchesne, Religious of the Sacred Heart who brought the Society to the United States in 1818.

Readings: Isaiah 52:7-10 ; Psalm 63; Lk 12:22-34

"Do not worry about your life and what you will eat, or about your body and what you will wear…can any of you by worrying add a moment to your lifespan? If even the smallest things are beyond your control, why are you anxious about the rest?"

A good question.

Go ahead, Philippine Duchesne! Get on the ship! Sail across a tempestuous ocean, to an unknown land, to uncertain work, in an unnerving language, with unfamiliar people…

And by the way, don't you worry about a thing… Ummm Hmmm…. How much easier for us to hear this in our time—because we know it all came out! Philippine became a saint, the network of Sacred Heart schools exists, and there are over 300 Religious of the Sacred Heart in the United States.

We know how it all came out… or, do we? I wonder if this story might have sounded familiar to some of you…perhaps if I put it this way—

Go ahead, new fifth graders! Climb those stairs! Go to the new land known as the Middle School! Don't worry about your uniform, where you are supposed to be going, or when lunch will be. Sixth graders—learning the names of new students, new teachers, all that new English vocabulary?? No problem. Seventh graders, that new language of Upper School—peer group, life skills, X-period, Advisory, Visual Foundations… I'm sure it will work out just fine. And teachers, go ahead, teach the subject you've never taught! Be a homeroom teacher for the first time! And, by the way, don't worry. Yep. Right.

What was Philippine's response to the multitude of unknowns? She prayed…always, according to her beloved Potawatomie. She turned to her God who she believed would not abandon her to her worries, she turned to her God that would not cast her hope back into the sea but rather would lead her feet through the prairie grass…all the way until today when with the eyes of faith, we look to the mountain of those who have made a difference in our world and are able to say "How beautiful upon the mountain are the feet of the one announcing peace, bearing good news, announcing salvation."

But, today, in this time and place, I'd like us to think bigger than feet. How beautiful upon the mountain are the heart, the hands, the mind, the feet…of those who work to bring about a world where we help one another, where we treat everyone with dignity, and where all are loved…that is God's vision… this is what Philippine now sees from that mountain. This is what we will see when we join her and walk our own journey with our heart and hands and mind and feet… without worry about the small matters, but by prayer and trust in God and the multitude around us. Our hands, mine, yours, yours., yours… our hearts, minds, …these are the hands and hearts and minds of God. The only ones God has. God's people, God's beloved children who are called to put aside concerns for ourselves and prepare the way for the coming of Love.

As you now know, lunch is at 11:45, the uniform guidelines are in the handbook, and most specialized vocabulary is explained in orientation. What's left is only for us to seek God, bring forth the vision in own time and space and way. May Philippine's pioneer spirit be with us all. God already is. Always is. No worries. But not easy.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

A box, a box...

Taken from my notebook where I was writing before liturgy today...

"Sitting in a pew, watching the choir arrange themselves in the section where I usually tuck listening to them practice the Gloria and finding it a much more pleasant alternative to the woman who is speaking even louder now to be heard by the tour group members moving through the main part of the church. The choir has moved on now to the psalm and the aleluia...and just as I began to float on the acoustics, someone carried by a a box labeled "angel wings." For some reason, I find that rather endearing...and comforting on some level...spare wings...that there would be angel wings available to use when the proof was needed. And, all the better that it was a simple cardboard box, written on in marker. A simple container that lets glory be glory. I can't help but think that the angels would be perfectly okay with that. I can't help imagining the conversation--"Okay, folks, they're not buying it. Got to break out the wings." "Aw geez, the wings??" "Yep, no choice on this one. Formal occassion and all..." Someone gets sent to the closet to sift and sort through boxes until finding the one wrapped with a bit of twine and labeled in permanent marker, "Angel Wings." Then there's the trying on...sort of like choir robes, I imagine. Somewhat cumbersome, perhaps, but tradition. Big wings, small wings, fluttery wings and flappy wings... and you know when you found the right pair because your cheeks get warm and you find yourself wondering about the stars."

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The Honor of Listening

I am planning a Mass with 45 kids and two other teachers. To get the maximum input, several different groups were created and pieces assigned. One homeroom, write the petitions and pick the kids to read; one homeroom, the offertory-pick the symbol to be carried forward in addition to the candles, flowers, bread and wine and who would carry each. My religion class, a mix of the homerooms, would pick the music and fill out the rest of the roles.

In religion, the kids split into two groups--one starting with song selection--taking into consideration the readings which we read outloud together, the other with assigning roles. When done, the group switched to the other topic. The only input I had was that the selections for both had to give evidence of reasonable thought and ultimately, I was the one who ratified their selelctions.

They chose fantastic music! Perfectly suited to the celebration and the readings and indicative of the preferred liturgical style of the kids-- songs with zip, songs with harmonies, songs with life and connection for the students. I took their papers, went to the music teacher, suggested a plan using a mix of the suggestions from the two groups, and she easily agreed.

I told the kids the next day which songs we were doing and they were SO thrilled. We suggested those!! We can do these?? Really?? Awesome!! You listened!!

Well, yes... you made wonderful suggestions, clearly connected to the reason for the celebration and the readings...why wouldn't I listen to you-- you are planning the Mass!

They had such smiles on their faces.

Makes me glad to be an adult at moments like that... an adult who has the chance to help a kid see their own worth, their own value, that what they have to say is important, that reasonable thought and passion behind something helps it to fly.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Playing with Pasta

Well, not so much playing as using it as an analogy.

I was having tea while visting a friend this afternoon when conversation turned to music and whether someone who knows music parses sound into notes instinctively the same way my friend, an artist, can parse shades and colors into component pieces that add up to the whole. She sees the whole and can see inside enough to see the pieces that come together to create it. We mulled this for a while, the similarities between music and visual art--for the one who knows how, the vision is through the whole to the inside structure that created it.

This got me thinking about writing and reading poetry and other forms of written expression. I realized that for me, the process with this format is reversed. I hear the pieces, I hear the structure, and a whole is created. By the rubbing of syllables, by the procession of patterns, images juxtaposed, and rhythmic rituals, something Other is created--a larger whole. I start, though, with the pieces...the words themselves. How they encounter one another in my mouth or ears when read aloud by me or someone esle, or how they interact when read silently in my mind, builds the larger picture.

This moved our conversation into the role voice plays in helping the words find one another and welcome each other's company...or not. I was struggling to explain my meaning and ended up referencing pasta.

Sometimes, when I hear things read aloud, the words are cut off from one another, not in relationship yet, simply occupying space next to each other. Crunchy raw pasta in the box.

Sometimes, the voice overpowers the words, running them into one another, coming on too strong. The mushy, sticky with gluten, uni-pasta of overboiling.

Then you have al dente when each piece is still itself, each word its own syllables, but flexible, chewy almost. It can bump into other pieces of pasta and you can feel the give and take, it neither falls to pieces nor adheres inextricably. It is filling and substantive... its best pasta-ness being drawn forth.

I think the voice/outside the mind delivery of Word or poetry can achieve the same thing...Expression that satisfies by honoring the fullness of language's capacities...

I'm making home-made mac and cheese for dinner, by the way. Tomatoes and sauteed onions are mixed in for a kick. A limerick, I think, would be the equivilent. Predictable...but often with a twist.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

My Day

It’s soon to be Halloween. Doors are being decorated in the middle school, costumes planned, skits created, gooey brains flung onto the ceiling.


Gooey brains.

Created out of some sort of slime putty designed to please children and peeve adults.

On the ceiling.

On the sixteen-eighteen foot ceiling.

Flung there by a holiday-thrilled eleven year old who just haaaaadddd to see if it would stick.

It did.

Who knew goo possessed quite that extreme an adhesive quality?

Helping get that down with the assistance of two yardsticks lashed together with booktape with a bent wire coat hanger taped to the end was how the day began.

From there I moved into a lesson on the proper use of semi-colons.

Then research techniques and properly citing an article from an online database using MLA formatting.

After this, a class with seventh grade on the connections between the corporal works of mercy, the basic principles of Catholic Social Teaching, and the moral vision we are called to as people of faith. One kid said, “But it’s just a vision. It may or may not happen…depending on our choices…and it won’t happen without us taking action… If we want it, we need to be the ones to do isn’t enough to just want it.” Amen.

From brains on the ceiling to working with kids toward the realization of the glory of God where, as my students distilled it, “everyone has enough, everyone is safe, and everyone knows themselves as loved.”

My days

are never



Friday, October 24, 2008


From RevGals... it's the Friday Five!

Tell us about the five favorite places you have lived in your lifetime. What did you like? What kind of place was it?

1. Don't remember much about it, but my parents brought me home to a barn. Always makes a fun intro line when writing one's life story. They, we, lived in half a renovated barn for the first four years of my life--complete with cows that bedded down in the basement.

2. Madison, WI for Grad School. Lake Mendota, the Terrace, the farmer's market, liberal, friendly Midwestern people, university culture, it was a two year GIFT to live there and have had the friends I had then. I learned much, loved much, and grew much. Would move back in a tick.

3. Grand Coteau, LA-- 1200 people, a love affair with food, beauty heaped upon beauty, sweet olive trees that are SURELY a foretaste of heaven's perfume when they bloom, seventeen shades of green I counted one day while sitting on the gallery of the school there--and I never turned my head. Friendly people, kind, generous people..

4. NYC NYC NYC. LOVE the City. People watching, pavement pounding, sensory delight, sometimes sensory offense, the world is walking by...

5. I've lived too in Cambridge, MA, Newton, MA, Chicago, Milwaukee, and four or five cities in OH. BUT, if I were to pick a place I wish I had/will live... several things come to mind. A houseboat on the Mississippi; Bath, England; a treehouse like the Swiss Family Robinson; SanFrancisco; and my ultimate fantasy...a small house in Maine, overlooking the Atlantic--one bedroom, one library/study/living room, and a kitchen large enough for a table to eat on, a wingback to read in, and space to have company while I cooked. Oh, I could describe this house for pages and pages.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Honey Sweet Sounds

I had a chance to hear the group Sweet Honey in the Rock this afternoon-- it was an amazing experience! I have never watched and heard people sing!! It was simply spectacular and stunningly beautiful to watch the sound come to life in the whole body of the woman singing. Yes...that's it...sound coming to life.

Singing with It All
(after hearing Sweet Honey in the Rock)

I’m talking shoulders
dipping and swinging,
in a harmonious lovely
arrangement with hands
at the end of arms that
never end their reach
for the contours of the refrain.

I mean hips that curve
left and right with the bends
in the wide sweeping range
of vocalized rivers
pouring their currents
of sound over sound
down the bed of my soul.

I’m thinking of legs
that know how to step,
how to stand, how to flex,
how to strut, how to strengthen
and ground the sound
in the here, the now,
the reality of presence.

I’m hearing the voices
that sing with it all,
with every bit of beauty
that is the shape, and the sound,
and the feel, and the fullness
of women in song.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Flipping for Friday Fives

The Friday Five from RevGals...

1) When was the last time you flipped a coin or even saw one flipped in person?

Flipped one today, actually, to solve a gripe...and taught a whole new generation the art of the thumb-flick flip. My students were quite impressed, thank you very much. I learned it from my father as a little girl. Spinning it on the table top too.

2) Do you have any foreign coins in your house? If so, where are they from?

I carry a two peso coin in my wallet to remind me of Mexico and a 20 pence piece to remind me of England. My grandmother had a neat habit of buying a small box when she travelled and would put a coin from the country in the box to help her remember where it was from and the particular trip.

3) A penny saved is a penny earned, they say. But let's get serious. Is there a special place in heaven for pennies, or do you think they'll find a special place in, well, the other place?

Pennies are cash and a hundred of them equals a buck. Nothing wrong with pennies.

4) How much did you get from the tooth fairy when you were a child? and if you have children of your own, do they get coins, or paper money? (I hear there may be some inflation.)

I seem to remember a tooth would be wrapped up in a kleenex/scotch tape packet and the coin would be delivered in the same fashion.

5) Did anyone in your household collect the state quarters? And did anyone in your household manage to sustain the interest required to stick with it?

Nope. BUT, used them as a point of research for the kids today. What state quarter carries an image of Helen Keller?!

Monday, October 13, 2008

An Experiment Gone Right

I have posted before about the pleasures of various meals--the creating of them, the eating of them... I suppose in more than one way, it feeds my poetic soul to experience something with as many senses as possible. Writing somehow has become another one of them. Another way of experiencing, nearly another sense all together--to infuse with expression and therefore experience at another level.

It is with that in mind that I find myself wanting to write about the sudden inspiration that came to me as I crossed an avenue while out on a wander this afternoon. I solved a problem, or at least self-proposed a solution, within the course of moving about fifteen steps East to West. With ambulances sounding uptown, cabs honking downtown and an argument ensuing, and business people whisking by, folded newspapers brushing my sleeves, my mind was suddenly filled with orange juice, butter, cinnamon, just enough sugar to make a syrup, and apples. Instead of fumes, I was already smelling the sweet heady steam of granny smiths in a skillet that would be layered on top of an apple crisp I had made for someone's birthday dessert. The Macintosh apples I had used shrank considerably in the cooking process and something needed to be added. How to make more without undoing?

I bought five Grannies on the way home, sliced them with skin on straight from the whole apple, heated the skillet with the butter, orange juice, and cinnamon, added the apples, sprinkled sugar on top, and let chemistry work her wonder. It smelled great, tasted wonderful (a cook must sample, right?), and filled up the top with lovely, syrupy, appley, al dente, slices of Fall.

I think I need to get out more often.

Sunday, October 12, 2008


The roof was gone at Mass today. And, in a sense, it was a storm that did it—a storm of glory in the form of song that pushed against the walls, against the roof, against the heart, and could not be contained. The roof was simply raised up with the power of the notes, the cataract of singing, the passion of praise and wonder and desire and hope. I was looking past the stations, past the carved relief, beyond the stained glass and the gathering of apostles, beyond the Spirit descending, beyond the rafters and straight out into the blue of a high fall day. I was up there…my heart was freed from boundary and any sort of limitation…I was everywhere…with friends in Mexico, in the halls with my students, in Argentina with another friend, in Louisiana, with a friend whose father is dying, with my own father, with the Welcome Table just downstairs…

Each song today was one the choir had done before. But, it was one of those days when I can imagine God grinning and saying, “Sing to me, my people! Set yourself free.”

Let my tears say Amen!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

An apple for the students

It was not an easy week at work. It was not an easy week at work but the day is sunny today. It was not an easy week at work, but the day is sunny today and I have on rainbow colored socks as I write. It was not an easy week at work, but the day is sunny today and I have on rainbow socks as I write in an empty library that reminds me that “some nonsense about sense continually intervenes.” (Robert Louis Stevenson on art.)

Who would have thought that in the middle of Manhattan the sense I sought, the meaning or fundamental motivation, for the week I had, would be expressed in terms of trees.

After school one day, I found a group of kids in the seventh grade locker area. They were…well… being twelve, being goofy, being girls at the end of a day. This included a pair of them donning their volleyball kneepads like slippers and using the padding to spring around on the polished wooden floors. I passed them by, stopped, turned, and asked the patently obvious to which they answered the equally clear.

I left them with a sigh to get on the elevator. Before the door opened, I heard a chorus of voices call out, asking “Are weeeee the apples of your eye???” I turned back around the corner and see all of the kids from the locker room hamming around like clowns and yes, wearing kneepads on their feet.

What could I answer but the truth. “Forget apples. Y’all are the whole orchard.”

ConEdison could have lit a couple of blocks with the wattage of their smiles.

Yes, that is the motivation for troubling weeks. It’s the motivation for the good weeks, too. God and God and God. And the chance to tell these kids that they are loved.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Who's the Muse?

An excerpt from a bit of writing I did a while back and recently rediscovered...

Part of what I was writing in the text was that there is no difference for me between the Muse and the Spirit. Given the truth of that, I also had to step back and notice then how much more human the image of the Spirit had become to me. Or, really, I had to open up to the full possibility of the Spirit revealing herself in different ways all of the time. That by itself, I would readily accept. Symbols of the Spirit have long been diverse for me—wind, ocean waves, the changing morning skies in the various places I've lived, quiet, the stone in my pocket… But, if you ask me to describe my Muse… I’d say she wore glasses and loose fitting dresses with pockets, always with pockets.

She’s short, most of the time. And solid, quite there. She has a kind, penetrating, secure strength about her…and such tenderness too. The strength is used but never wielded. The Muse is fond of touch, not afraid of giving or receiving it. A hand on the cheek or shoulder, a brush with her skirts, and a lingering presence that is something like the wave of Spanish moss in live oak trees, the salty tang of sea air, the stillness of cathedrals from centuries past, and the feeling of cool clean sheets at night after a day of good work, all twined together.

She moves easily in her dresses… not making much sound except the slight jingle of whatever is in her pockets and the rub of buckle on leather on her knapsack. Oh…and when she laughs! Yes, when the Muse laughs, she rarely holds back. Actually, she never holds back. It’s a part of her being quite present, quite there.

She is generous with her quiet as well as her joy…sitting with me comfortably…her feet up, pen and paper in hand, or beads, or a book…or sometimes nothing, simply thinking, watching, noticing, a bird outside the window or the interesting shadows made by objects on the shelves. I think she naps sometimes too.

I asked her once what she kept in her pockets. She put her hand in and fished around a bit, murmuring something at the same time. When she withdrew and opened her fist, there on the palm of her hand was a fragment of seashell, a leather lace of royal blue glass beads, a coin, a feather, a bit of string, and a pencil sharpener. After a moment, in went the hand to the other pocket. She brought forth three sunflower seeds, a flask of water, a tiny globe, a small pouch of dirt, and a remarkably clean square of orange bandana. She didn’t offer any explanations. Just winked, actually, and began to hum as she replaced the contents of her pockets.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Friday Five

Turns out yesterday was Johnny Appleseed Day--here are the RevGal Friday Fives in his honor...

1. What is your favorite apple dish?

Apple Crisp--great memories from childhood; Also, made it once in community and it became a favorite birthday request. Also, great for breakfast the following day...uhhh, those rare times there's any left in the pan!

2. Have you ever planted a tree? If so was there a special reason or occasion you can tell us about?

Planted, no--but honored one that was 150+ years old, yes. We had a whole ceremony to honor the Duchesne Oak at the school where I worked in Lousiana.

3. Does the idea of roaming around the countryside (preaching or otherwise) appeal to you? Why or why not?

Yes--I've been told my theme song could be Don't Fence me In--this plays into it. Always meeting new people, exploring, sharing something I love and that is drawn forth from me in the exploration and meeting new people.

4. Who is a favorite "historical legend" of yours?

I do like Johnny Appleseed--Paul Bunyan too, actually. Hmm...would Rosie the Riveter count?

5. Johnny Appleseed was said to sing to keep up his spirits as he traveled the roads of the west. Do you have a song that comes when you are trying to be cheerful, or is there something else that you often do?

Actually, I have a tree that I love--it fills the end of the street as I walk to school each morning. I love watching her change with the seasons, standing there each morning, waiting for me, clapping her greens, waving her branches, dancing with the breeze, cradling the birds.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

In case you wondered

From my bus ride home...

"This is how you become REAL do this (approx. five year old boy makes whacking-chopping motions with each forearm) then one arm turns yellow, one turns blue, and then it happens! But, only if you are wearing your tight pants, like in ballet."

THAT explains why it's never worked for me! Mystery solved.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Friday 5, the Fall Edition

Questions from RevGals...

As this vivid season begins, tell us five favorite things about fall:

1) A fragrance -- nuts roasting in street vendor carts; loamy earth; chili on the stove; Constant Comment tea (childhood memory).

2) A color-- the heart of fire

3) An item of clothing -- a rose plaid flannel/fleece shirt jacket--well loved, soft, worn-in, borrowed from a dear friend; a purple fleece turtleneck sweater, used to be my mother's; jeans, my own, fitting just right, years in the wearing.

4) An activity -- hitting the streets of New York, stopping for coffee when it gets chilly, walking forever without getting hot, looking at all there is to see, stopping on a park bench to write.

5) A special day -- Sundays, Mass, Brunch with my pals, a good walk afterward with a friend.

Linguistic ponderings

I had another interesting language experience the other night while talking on the computer with someone in Mexico. My friend made reference to knowing that something would happen in el momento adecuado. This made perfect sense to me. The adequate moment—which wasn't adequate exactly, but rather appropriate--the moment that was sufficiently the right moment for whatever to come to pass. I had never heard the word used that way before…yet in that fleeting read of a phrase, pictures in my mind met my method of thinking about things met up with poetry met up with a word in another language and sense was wrought. And this all happened merrily in a pinprick of time. It is completely amazing to me to be able to feel this birthing/learning happen…and it is totally cool. I imagine it is similar to what it would be like to be able to see inside chemical reactions—which I also happen to think would be completely amazing.

Another friend who sitting beside me asked if I knew what the word meant. "Yes." "Well??" "Uhhh…" "But you understand it!" "Yes." "You can't explain it?" "Not exactly."

My question then became, why can't I explain it? I can explain words in my own language to someone in Spanish…but here was a time when I couldn't unravel the thinking in the other direction! So interesting.

"To wonder," though, really threw me, when I tried to explain that once to my friend who was both so very near and so far away. It isn't thinking or considering or dreaming or curiosity or contemplation all alone, but bits of all wrapped together. What word to use in Spanish that conveys the same sense? I remember asking myself, is it possible for a language to not have a way to speak of wonder? What would that mean? Not that it didn't exist, certainly….I knew that there might well be a word for it, but it was an interesting thing to consider.

What happens to the concepts, the realities, when the limitations of language prohibit the expression of them in ways that can be understood by those engaged in the conversation? Where do they go?

Monday, September 15, 2008

¿Que has hecho?

I find myself in a funny position right now. Well, actually, both feet are on the rung of the chair and my hands are resting on the it isn't the physical position that is funny, but rather the mental one. I had one of those GREAT teaching days today that absolutely revs me up with joy and amazement at the way middle school minds can get cranking. I came home and told people about it over dinner. I answered email later on that included an email from someone in Mexico who asked me "Que has hecho de bueno?" What good things have you done? I spent a healthy three or four paragraphs expressing my utter delight from my morning religion class that I carried with me on through what was ultimately a crazy busy day filled with a multitude of things. Naturally, I wrote those paragraphs in the best of my ability...and that bit of puzzling through added a layer to the wonder.

But now that I am here and wanting to write of it, I am thinking...but I already did! Do I translate backwards, do I write all over again? Do I post it as I wrote it? A funny feeling position to be in--knowing that I have expressed things in a way that I can not express them in my first language because I chose to communicate with a friend. Yet, to share with other friends, I need to move from a language that isn't my own to one that is. The ideas were experienced in one language yet recorded first in another. A twisty, though not unpleasant, circle of experience and thought.

This morning my students began to understand the idea that even when we know the definition of words that hold Big Ideas, morality, goodness, happiness, friendship, there is still the question of But what does it mean?? We spoke of being human and therefore interacting with the created world via touch, smell, taste, sound, sight. If we are to understand the meaning of the Big Ideas, it must be in terms of relating to that created world via the senses. I used Peace as an example. IOne student read the definition from the dictionary and then I asked them What peace smelled like, tasted like, looked like, sounded like, felt like and we filled a whiteboard with their ideas....clean sheets, snow falling in the city, a baby snoring, fresh mown grass... The next step was that no image was completely correct and yet none was incorrect but all had the dictionary definition at the core. How is it possible to say that none are completely correct yet none are incorrect? They got it almost instictively. Unique experiences, important experiences. Each image is a piece of the greater meaning of peace. The students were nodding and getting it. The more we come to understand the cores and come to know one another's experiences of Big Ideas, the closer and closer we get to seeing as God sees because our vision is larger, fuller, more dynamic, more textured, than our one piece will ever allow. They got this! I believed they could handle thinking like this and they did! More than that, they seemed to enjoy it! Amen, I say!
It was fantastic.

Eso es lo que he hecho de bueno hoy.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

And then...

...there came Oral Interpretation in college. It was there I learned how to translate my own personal experiences into a format that was both safe for me and engaging for others. I began by converting several actual incidents into monologues (the regularly occurring "Don't be Boring for ten minutes" exercise) and realized that others would in fact respect the content, if the delivery was convincing. Real or ficticious didn't matter to those listening at the time. The perfect venue for sailing out there some of my actual reality and thoughts! While using my lived reality without having to declare it as such at the time and encorporating the techniques of the class, I began to notice the consistently positive reception. This was the encouragement I needed to begin slowly acknowledging that yes, I had written the monologues, and it was in fact my own work, my own life, of which I spoke.

I began including my name on any poetry I wrote. I actually began saving copies of my writing even as I gave it away to others. I began to associate a pen with the idea of freedom and voice and creativity and conversation with something beyond. I began to associate writing with praying.

It was in undergrad that I first began to explore Catholicism. There was a campus church that I'd heard was open until quite late. My idea was to go over late enough to avoid anyone who might ask me any questions. I could and did walk around "looking" at things with my senses. I remember following the contours of a smooth wooden statue of Mary with my fingers each time I entered. I remember the smell of wax and the feel of warm, near, peace. One night I discovered a book, laid open to blank pages, with a pencil along side. What an invitation! I filled pages and pages in that book on many an occassion. I had discussions, asked questions, made observations, shared stories... I thought it was absolutely glorious that a church would provide the space and tools for writing to God!

I now know that it was the community's book of petitions... An appropriate place, upon reflection, for someone trying to tell her tale.

Hear me, O God, as I write my own creation story.

And God read that it was good.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Lost and found soles

I recently described the process of going back to school as a teacher as one of going from around 30 mph to driving on the Autobahn when all you did was turn a corner.

My students return tomorrow...there will be the thumping of backpacks, giggling, hugging, stamping up the stairs, whispers, welcomes, locker clanging, general hubub and the occassional holler that needs a gentle quash...there will be questions, there will be stories, there will be laughter, there might be tears...

Funny thing is, I don't remember that same sort of hype of re-entry that my students experience. What I remember is going to the door of my local public school to check out homeroom lists so I could see what my potential would be for having a friend or two and what I could expect for trouble... being a contented solitary kid didn't go over so well with some of my classmates. I remember going to the local department store with my mother and buying new school shoes. School shoes and sneakers. School shoes were leather, sneakers were canvas... Navy and tan saddle shoes stick out in my memory as do rubber toe-capped Keds lace-ups in either red or navy, depending on what color was available in my size. Each year I remember thinking that my step was somehow bouncier in new sneaks, that they alone would make me run faster. Ah, such simple thinking, such deeply sought illusions...

On that level, I can easily identify with my students on their return to the halls of their familiar. They too have many deeply sought illusions...of shoulds, mights, somedays, if onlies... that are hidden beneath the protections they have applied for safe keeping.

I am giving a talk at the seventh grade retreat this coming Friday on a moment in my school life when I realized I had a unique gift and how that realization played into my self-esteem. I know the exact moment, actually. And can still, twenty years later, remember the feeling. It ws my senior year, though. How do I tell my students, especially those contented solitaries who are biding their time to bloom, that it took that long?

It was speech class. A requirement for graduation that I postponed as long as possible. We had to give a personal experience speech--I asked the teacher if I could make one up because I didn't feel like sharing one of my own with a class that included several who had taken it as a mission to tease me without ceasing for years. He approved it. I spoke for fifteen minutes about the day I met the Queen of England thanks to a pen pal relationship I had with the Royal Gardener. The class bought the whole thing. I remember thinking as I realized they all believed me..."This is what it feels like to be in be believed even when spinning wool...there is something to having people in the palm and being able to take them where blows the creativity given to me by God."

And so was born a storyteller, a teacher somewhat flamboyant in speech and gesture, though certainly not in dress, a poet who would share her words and write for others, a blogger who believed she had something to say that people would want to read.

Gertrude meets Shakespeare

A rose is a rose is a rose... and would smell as sweet by any other name. Such is the wonder and glory of a God who brings people together in friendship and shares with them the beauty, the bends, the refracted spectrum of shining mystery alive and pulsing in our world.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Take a Left, then Rise

I wrote this for a friend who earlier today sent me an email that included a wish for a special map. She lost the love of her life tragically a little over a year ago. All day long in moments fleeting I kept coming back to the idea of cartography and internal geography...I knew I couldn't draw her one, but maybe I could offer something...

Take a Left, then Rise

You first
find the place
where you and your honey
kissed long and said
forever, amen.

Then go up a bit--
up just round the curve
where the sunflowers grow
and the stars like to gather
for their night time compline praise.

Keep on til you wade
through the stone rippled water
that is sweet and slow and deep.
Meet there the reflections
of the others who've gone-

whose names are known
to the beavers and fish,
to the wind, the crickets, and God.
Let them know
that you're on your way.

Climb the bank,
take a left.

Find the tree
with the bared heart knot
and the roots of welcome.

Rest awhile.

Then rise.

Like bread does,
the sun does,
the moon does,
and we believe
that we will.


Friday, August 29, 2008


Three weeks ago, I received a letter from my father. Two weeks ago, I received another letter from him. Two days ago, a third note arrived. The content is not what is important…more so, my reaction.

Sometimes at a certain age or time people stop, look in the mirror, and with shudders of recognition pronounce “I am becoming my…!” For me, the recognition came in reading the notes. If you knew me, heard me, read me…and then read these folded samples of my father’s ruminations, there would be zero doubt of my 100 % direct genetic descent. The structure of his sentences, the dry straightforward delivery of humor that assumes the reader will either get it and laugh—or not, the word choice, even the selection of events he highlights…in the case of his second letter, his role in live-trapping a 500 pound black bear. It’s a story that took a page and three-quarters—I’ll save the details and simply say that it was an issue of public safety that led to it.

When I read his words, written by hand on notebook paper, I found myself looking into that mirror. We were both looking back—not the same person, but two faces superimposed with distinct but overlapped features. This was not a shock to me—in an inexplicable sort of way, it was actually a comfort to find so definitively someone else you recognize as part of you. It was especially important to me that I recognized it in his writing…something I see as such an extension of my thoughts and contemplations.

There are pages of reasons why the likelihood of this ever having occurred are rare. There are paragraphs of reasons why the connection I feel is not more complete. But to know that we are bound in our use of Word, in one of the ways we convey our take on the world…that is a thread that reaches not only the pen in my hand, but that tugs on my heart as well.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Agreeing with Gertrude

Please enjoy...I received them this afternoon. They are on the dining room table at the moment and are simply too lovely not to share. There is a blush on the petals that can not be seen might be peach, it might be pink, and I rather like the fact that I can't quite tell... they bring me a sense of calm, quiet beauty that lasts. Beauty deep and mysterious, layered and organic, and accomplished only by being unabashedly what one was created to be.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Que te disfrutes...That you may enjoy

I have just returned from spending two days in the apartment of a friend who is on retreat. Her apartment is on the 27th floor of the building and has one large window facing more or less west and one on large window facing more or less east. The bed where I slept was along side that eastern facing stretch of wonder.

I say it that way because the first morning I was there, I awoke at four in the morning to face a sight of such incredible glory--a full wave of radiant orange and red, centered with a round glowing blessing of love, rising over the City. I could do nothing but weep in thanksgiving for the privilege of being awake at just that moment of its fullness.

It was an interesting thing to write about it afterward for me...the words to describe my experience at that time kept coming out in Spanish...telling, to me, though of what I do not yet know...except that I am grateful and grateful and grateful.

Ay, la belleza de éstos días... el sol baja en una ventana del salon y sube en la otra al lado de la cama en que estoy durmiendo. Me desperté a las cuatro hoy, y allí estaba, tan rojo y anaranjado, subiendo sobre la ciudad...una manifestación de Dios, para mi. Los colores, la belleza, la naturaleza...Creo que hay cosas en la vida que sean simplemente regalos para gozar...tan cariñoso es el amor de Jesús. En momentos así, siento un libertad completo, un unión profundo con la omnipresencia de su amor...como si mis brazos, mi corazón, mi ser, extiendan al mundo completo.

Oh the beauty of these days... the sun sets in one window of the living room and rises in the other, alongside the bed where I am sleeping. I awoke at four this morning and there it was, so red and orange, rising over the city... a manifestation of God, for me. The colors, the beauty, the naturalness... I believe there there are some things in life that are simply gifts to enjoy- so tender and caring is the love of Jesus. In moments like this, I feel a complete liberty, a profound union with the omnipresent love of though my arms, my heart, my being, extend to the whole world.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Next Best Thing

I am a big fan of dip pens and ink. I love the process of cleaning the nib, finding the best color ink for the words to be penned, and baptizing the tip with chromatic potential. It is the next best thing to being able to head to a scriptorium myself and illumine the Word.

I like manual typewriters too. There is something about the satisfying whack of steel on paper, laying down its mark in the service of the Word. It is the next best thing to setting type with the colonial printers who painstakingly cranked out their broadsheet objections to taxation without representation.

I also like video cameras and computers. Last night I talked to a friend in Mexico for over two hours for free...we could see each other plain as day and hear each other's voices. It was the next best thing to being able to laugh with her in the same room, to speaking of dreams and somedays with her in the same space, and to giving her an actual hug...and it was fantastic

Sometimes the next best thing is nearly perfect and completely wonderful.

Friday, August 15, 2008

A friend

"I count myself in nothing else so happy
As in a soul remembering my good friends."
Shakespeare, Richard II

I was talking to a friend this afternoon, a former colleague whom I have known now for ten years. He has been through some significant change in the last little while and I wanted to check in and ask how he was faring on the sea. Though he would have every right to not do so, he asked about my life as well and genuinely wanted to know. We promised prayers for each other at the end of the call, each naming what the other could include in the offered intentions.

Later on, I was writing about this call for myself while in a favorite coffee shop and closed my journal entry with a simple truth that I wanted others to know.

"He is one of the good guys, he is. I am so lucky and so very thankful."

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

A Great Meal

I just finished an exceedingly satisfying meal and am sitting here at the computer listening to Eva Cassidy, drinking a mug of decaf, and feeling mellow, full, and thoughtful.

Baked chicken, so tender, coated in breadcrumbs laced with hints of pepper, salt, a kiss of Tony Cachere's, a little parsely. Zucchini sauteed in olive oil with chunks of white onion, coarse ground pepper, salt, and two healthy splashes of balsamic vinegar. Just before serving, a short handful of shaved parmesean tossed across the top. An uncomplicated green salad, and sourdough bread.

I wanted to eat so enjoy the festival going on in my mouth...little hits of zing, the sweet onions, the profoundly chickeny flavor of the meat, the slight firmness left in the zucchini and the warm melted glory of fresh cheese, the tang of sourdough embracing the cream of butter.

The music and the coffee add to my mood of contentment. Eva Cassidy's voice is drawing from me a desire to do several, pray, write...but instead I sit with my eyes closed, nearly doing all of them at the same time. The coffee is the touch of a friend who understands this feeling.

God is so close at moments like this...settling beside me to watch the sun go down and the dreams rise up.

Saturday, August 2, 2008


I unwrapped seven gifts before dinner tonight. I took my time with each layer, trying to imagine the care of the one who chose the wrapping and crafted the contents. Tonight i wanted to honor the process of receiving these gifts and preparing to share them by taking my time and by allowing each sense to be involved.

Each gift was delicately done up, ribbons at the top, neat, tidy, and complete. Each one was perfect in its own way, though not without blemish. Some of the contents of the packages had already been sampled, some had been missing from the very beginning. There remained a harmony, though, among the pieces that remained. Nothing could have been added to make them more sweet than they were.

As layers came free, some of the pieces broke open and spilled onto my hands. I could smell anad taste the glory of what lie ahead. The closer I got to the gift itself, the wrapping began to squeak and cling to what it was created to protect. I pulled and tugged seven times, clearing away the bows and ribbons that sometimes tangled themselves in the creases and cracks of the gift being offered to me.

When all were freed from wrappings, trappings, and finery, I found myself giving thanks. Thanks for creativity, thanks for imagination, thanks for nature,

and thanks for corn.

Nothing quite like fresh corn on the cob to make me remember summer days of my chidhood...being told to play outside, being off by myself, happily self entertained for hours on end. Remembering kool-aid ice cubes served in recycled yogurt cups at my grandmother's home, being given a paper bag of corn from the garden and another empty bag with the mandate to shuck before twenty minutes prior to dinner...days of listening to bull frogs, learning to tie knots from an old Boy Scout handbook, and figuring out how to siphon a bucket of water from the second floor kitchen balcony, across the driveway, down the side yard, to the apple trees just to see if I could. Summer days filled with trips to the library and cinnamon fireballs from the grocery store where my mother shopped while I was looking for books. Days filled with sorting the books and deciding the order I would read them, reading to the point of delicious gluttony, and wandering through and among trees, imagining what it would be like to fly or be invisible, pressing my face against earth and breathing in the scent of quartz, soil, leaf, God.

Yes, nothing like sweet corn to remind me of part of the tale of how I became who I am now.

Handcranked home-made ice cream and being charged with sitting on the board... now that's a whole other set of reminders.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Mi hogar

I got back around 1:00 AM this morning and went to sleep sometime around 3:30. It wasn't jet lag, it wasn't was "difference." Funny how what we call home can change with such ease. In short time this will become home again, I know. But I think for a while I will still listen for the roosters, try to guess what the trucks are selling based on the cries through microphones, and wonder if there is any agua de jimaica to drink downstairs.

It was an experiencce I can not adequately describe and for which I will long be thankful.


Sunday, July 27, 2008

Into Being

I always believed in the power of language...but now, after this experience of a month in Mexico, it is far less about the power-potential of language than it is about the sacredness, the preciousness, the tenderness, the life-capacity of language... I understand in a different way the Genesis story. It is no trouble at all for me to believe that God spoke and things came in to being. I saw friendship born in my midst that way these last weeks. I saw love dancing and hearts singing, work happening, and stories being shared. Not perfectly, not even grammatically closeto perfection sometimes, but with the motivation of love and care, the words were clear. Graceful, grace full stuff.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Up on the Roof

Around 8:00 this morning, on the roof with coffee and thoughts. I am realizing only now that the direction I face each morning--toward the cerros (hills)--is in fact toward the East. How instinctive and appropriate. The sun is usually not yet up when I am here. Anotrher thing I notice this morning is that even though the sun is up and casting shadows on the page as I write, there are still lights on in the homes on the cerros. It makes sense that the houses here would see the sun before the houses up there-but nonetheless, I think it is interesting. It is all a matter of angles and physics. The other thing I notice too is that there is still a full moon in the west.


Listening now to Teresa Parodi, an Argentinian folksinger with a lovely, slightly gravelly, alto voice. I wrote an article for the international website yesterday with someone else in the house...a most interesting undertaking. We both wrote ahead of meeting together and upon talking realized our mutual frustration with what we had written! We had both done descriptions...not what actually happened at the meeting. Also, neither one of us wanted two separate articles--one in English, one in Spanish--because that is not how the meeting was. There was a constant rubbing together of the two languages and the cultures they represented, in all of their diversity. We wanted the article to represent that too so we wrote it in pairs of paragraphs, English next to Spanish next to English, etc...

One of the things I noticed was that even though we were expressing the same idea, there remained things ¨que no se sueñen¨ in either English or Spanish. Sometimes my writing partner would change the phrasing of the Spanish and I´d be left speechless by this new image or angle or ray of beauty that suddenly appeared that could not be reproduced in English. This AMAZES me. Words do not have equivelents in other languages! Each word in each language is its own statement, of sorts. You can convey a concept or idea in different languages, but not because the words are the same...only because (if) the concept or idea is comprehensible. A word in English and a word in Spanish is not one word...or even one concept... it is two words and multiple concepts. The vocabulary available for using, describing, painting, poet-ing, just increased exponentially...not because anything changed, save that I gained understanding.

I am in awe at moments like this.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

¡Al Zoológico! Y un poquito mas

I just returned from the Zoo...not something I enjoy so much because the animals all look so very sad to me...but it was a group field trip for about 150 kids. I feel sooo grimy and dusty in almost every place imaginable... The kids had a good time, though. Nearly everything we saw was paired with a kid asking...Y como se dice....en inglés? And how do you English? All of the animals. One of my favorites to say in Spanish is hipopótamo just because it feels so bubbly in my mouth and sounds fun, too.

One of the tricky things is wondering how to reconcile the presence of a fairly decent zoo in the midst of SUCH poverty. One of the mothers who was with my group mentioned how incredibly expensive a ride on the train that takes you all around is. It is the equivelent of a dollar. Many of the people in this colonia are not on a sewer or water system of any kind, but the bathrooms at the zoo were spotless. Probably so as to not offend those who come from the first world face of Leon and not the third world face.

I went up to the roof again this morning after waking up thinking about chess and a conversation I was a part of the other day with a Brazilian who described her understanding of the word ¨conquer.¨ For her, ¨conquer¨ has no connection to power but instead has a relational meaning...a circling, a drawing in, a seduction, until both are assumed into the other. This was in relation to a question in a movie we saw the other night--is it better to satisfy a thousand desires or conquer only one? Satisfy goes only one way whereas conquer goes both ways, for her. It is a lovely understanding, I must confess. And chess seems a great sort of metaphor for it. My subconscious must have thought so too.

On the roof with a cup of coffee, I turned to look again at the surrounding hills and noticed a completely white rabbit hopping across the neighbor´s roof. Between that and the chess\conquer thoughts so early in the morning, it felt like beginning the day in the midst of magic realism. A little different, but not all together unpleasant.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

I lift my Eyes to the Hills

Good morning...I just returned from being on the roof of the house with morning coffee and looking up to the hills that surround the colonia where I have been staying. I couldn´t help but think about a song we sing at the parish I attend in NYC...I lift my eyes to the hills...Jerusalem, my destiny...though I can not see the end for me, I cannot turn away...this journey is my one walks alone...the journey makes us one.

The day looks to dawn clear and sunny...a good sign. The bishop is coming to the house for a visit today so we will return from the camp where we teach, do a quick change of clothes, and be prepared to receive him in the living room for a half hour. Should be another sort of adventure, that.

Some of us spent the day in Guanajuato the other day...a city about an hour from here, very colonial, in the mountains, beautiful beautiful beautiful...fresh air, colorful, was a mining town for gold and silver both. We walked around a lot, had popsicles, got something to eat, laughed a lot amongst the group of us who were together. It was fun.

I have been able to eat... carefully but without issue lately...especially since discovering creamy peanut butter in the pantry! Peanut butter on a flour tortilla, food of the gods, I am telling body was in need of protien!

I helped do the grocery shopping two days ago and had a funny thing happen. I was asked to go pick out half a dozen mangoes and I realized, I have no idea what a ready to eat mango looks like! I had to ask what color it should be. The other thing was papaya. I thought, wow, who would have thought fruit would be a point of cultural learning?

Also, thanks to some of the boys I am teaching, I can now throw a top and have it spin! It was ridiculously satisfying when I finally got it. That continues to go well...we have been working with them on the idea of civic responsibility, the rights and coincident obligations of children ( a right to be clothed and the obligation to care for their clothes, pick them up, etc), and the traits of a community that works together.

The translation thing is tiring...being one in the house who understands nearly everything in both languages. I can understand it for myself without problem, but when it comes to having to think about how to explain it to someone, tricky. I find that much of the time I understand the Spanish without intentionally translating it in my head, which is significant growth to me, but in a strange way that I can not completely explain, it also makes it more difficult to translate. I have to intentionally think about how to say what I just understood clearly in Spanish, in English, because I wasn´t thinking about it in English! I hope there is some sense to be found in there somewhere. Going the other direction is tricky too... I have to really think...almost consciously convert my mind into the necessary language...because I spend a lot of time in the land of mental linguistic my mind has become either a neutral mix of Spanish and English that floats here or there or it is simply still and quiet, nearly without language, and it adjusts depending on what it hears. But know how you can hear yourself think? Sometimes I hear myself thinking in English and Spanish at the same time...certain words in English, certain in Spanish. Mental Spanglish, I suppose. It is all rather interesting...because I am at the same time weary and grateful for the gift of being able to straddle languages.

Hoping all is well with everyone...this brings a smile and the glory of the rainbow that I saw from the roof yesterday morning while I was drinking my coffee.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Further Adventures of my time in Leon, Mexico

Some of you have heard bits of this, but I wanted to put it all together... Yesterday brought an adventure of a new sort... we went to mass at the Zoo! Yes, Mass... Zoo... add in Rain... and some INTENSE mud...and a walk of about 3/4 mile in said mud to get to the entrance to the zoo... and you have the makings of an adventure. The mud was unlike anything I have ever encountered. THICK THICK and STICKY STICKY and, judging by the fetid water of the puddles, filled with things I chose not to think too much about as I schlucked my way. I kept thinking, I have no cuts on my feet, water will rinse it off...I have no cuts on my feet, water will rinse it off... Mass was in one of the theaters you´d use for an animal showing. It was to celebrate women who had completed a course of study in a program sponsored by the church for well-being, child care, basic education, problem resolution, etc. It was a big deal... dancing demonstrations followed... even with a light rain. The walk home was by a different route--this time about two miles around a lake. Much less mud...but many more fire ants. Easier to avoid those than the mud.

I was playing a lot at recess today... working with kids on eye-hand coordination. I paired up kids, each with a ball, throwing and catching one to the other at the same time. The game was to see how many exchanges you could do before one or the other dropped the ball. 16 was the highest. Fun stuff. We have one kid in our group who has some significant learning issues... he will go from more or less cooperative to snapping out with his teeth like he will bite fingers to sitting in a corner all by himself, saying nothing and rocking slightly. The others do not know to leave him be which agitates him further. I can´t help but wonder what will happen to him in an environment of such poverty and deprivation.

Now that we have been here for a while, the area knows us and always calls out to us when we walk by... there is a regular refrain of ¨Maestra! Maestra!¨ Teacher! Teacher! as we make our way to school. Alejandro walked with me this morning and was full of details about sticking himself with a needle during a workshop yesterday afternoon. He´s about ten, maybe eleven. Cute.

I am going to the workshop on painting this afternoon. There are thirty some odd kids in that one...all under 8 years old. Two more hands and one more mouth will be welcome.

Hoping all are well... this brings with it a smile, a hug, and the crow of a rooster...a constant here.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Ire con un lapiz en mi mochila. I will go with a pencil in my backpack.

I am headed to Mexico in two days and will return in a month's time. People have asked whether I am taking a camera...I thought about it for a while before deciding not to. Several years ago when I helped take a group of students to England, all of my photos were ruined at the developer. Fortunately, and not surprisingly, I wrote everywhere we had been and simply excerpted journal entries to create about five pages of reflection. I passed those out when people would ask to see where I had gone. It worked well and more accurately suited my reflection of a given event than a photo would.

There were some things I am sorry to have lost. The photos of Tintern Abbey come to mind in particular. But, tucked into the pages where I wrote of my simultaneous desire to be as small and close to the ground as possible and as tall and spread out as can be, there is a leaf from the tree under which I indulged in Wordsworth and romantic thoughts of poetic wanders.

I have hope that similar things will happen over the next month. Expect to read about them. Be well.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Soaked in Rain and Glory

I went on a picnic yesterday...complete with friend, egg salad, onion rolls, plums, drinks, and a bench along the Hudson. We spoke of many things, as we always do. Those things gradually began to include the lightning off in the distance, the curtains of rain visible in the clouds beyond us, and the increasing choppiness of the water. As we gathered up to walk back to her apartment, there grew an intimate immediacy to these topics. Big, fat, wet drops began dappling down and quenching the summer thirst for relief from the ordinary. We walked in the rain, got thoroughly soaked, and then had cups of tea after towelling off and finding/borrowing dry tee shirts.

It was rather fun, to tell the truth. Usually rain is seen as a deterrent to picnicing... here it was sort of an added bonus. Ah, the gift of perspective...and company that shares it.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Opening up

I don’t know who JD is—an in tune little girl, a thoughtful young boy—but the freshly pressed and tidy child sitting next to me on the bus a couple of mornings ago was telling me about attending a birthday celebration for her/him.

The story began with my companion bus rider practicing her nouns. Dog! Window! And, most emphatically, Umbrella! Knowing her approximate age, and the slim projected chance for precipitation, I assumed the umbrella was more of a treasure than a talisman to ward off undesired weather. She got this umbrella—this unavoidably pink, emblazoned with Snow White, umbrella—at JD’s birthday party. And she was darn proud of it. The small commuter broke into song as I was getting off—a three year old’s confident version of “Bippety-Boppity-Boo.” I hoped no one would tell her that it was from a different movie than the brolly offered, with pride, for viewing by any who passed.

She was happy being on the bus with her mother, an umbrella, and people who in her mind were there only to receive the stories she arranges and bestows like bouquets.

As she ages and her stories become more complex, nuanced, and even perhaps painful, may she never falter in the belief that her stories are gifts and that there will be people willing to receive them with the recognition and respect they deserve.

Salt Water Clay

Salt Water Clay

I do not know
if it is the beauty of recognition
or the marvel
of what is saved from imagination so
that it might bloom with experience.

But there are those times—

when the glory
of an honest heart is
singing its song
or writing its Word or
sculpting its emotion
and meets in another heart
the warm reception of honor—

that grace becomes tears
and tears become blessing
and blessing becomes
in turn, again,
warm, soft, pliable glory—

living clay to be crafted
over time
by wheels of experience,
spinning and shaping,
revealing and ever revealing.


Sunday, June 15, 2008

Sleeping Loose

I love the idea of sleeping loose rather than sleeping tight. I close the evening email to a friend with the wish "sleep loose." Tonight I decided to explore that notion a see what it might look like.

sleeping loose

when you hear
the sparkle
of dreams a'coming
and see the wide, free colors
of the tracks ahead
and jump the train steaming
wishes and tomorrows
and you feel the wind
laughing and praying
and wrapping in love
anyone who aches
and you notice that the air
tastes a bit like peppermint.


Sunday, June 8, 2008


It has been a while since posting anything new. Forgive me, those of you who check regularly and are wondering where I have been! The end of the school year is not my most reflective time. The chaotic schedule of different activities and celebrations, the hype level of my students, my goofballs, my borrowed daughters, my charges, 147 children of a creative, loving God.

The title of this post, disponible, is a word that suits well these past weeks. Availability. One who is disposed to doing the various and sundry. Such, often, is the life of this librarian...working with the students, teaching research skills, preparing liturgies, practicing for those with the students, helping to write our school accreditation documents, helping inventrory to collection, troubleshooting technology issues, troubleshooting homework issues, troubleshooting life issues that are important when you are in middle school...but it also holds true for me outside of work. Just today, I have gone to Mass, gone to brunch, walked a good couple miles, translated a document from Spanish into English, fixed a computer, climbed a ladder to change a bulb, cleaned up glass, been kissed and hugged, bestowed kisses and hugs, read the paper, cleaned the coffee maker, read a book, given directions to a stranger...and thought about a poem. Very little of this was known to me upon rising this morning. In fact, it is safe to say that the only certainties at 7 in the morning involved reading the paper and brewing a pot of the elixir of life and be followed by a trip to Mass.

Isn't that life, really, when we pay attention? To be live a little looser than a hard/fast plan. It's taken me a while to get here and it doesn't happen all the time, but when it does, life looks pretty darn good.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Rain, Rain, No Need to Go Away

Why it doesn’t bother me that it is pouring rain at 7:00 AM on a workday…

The last two days have been a pair of the most incredible days I have had in a long, long time. I spent at least ten hours outside each day, walking the city and Central Park, sitting in public plazas writing, people watching to my heart’s fill, and talking to a friend for hours.

The exercise (over 150 blocks) was most welcome and left my body stretched, happy, and a warm, contented receptor of sleep at day’s end.

The people-watching was food for much contemplation—I inadvertently became a spectator to a deal for buying black market sunglasses where someone was willing to sell herself to get the brand she sought. I also passed by a series of seven or eight street vendors all of whom were feather-dusting their wares at the same time. Intriguing.

The writing was rich and textured according to where I was when picking up pen and paper. I wrote a homily for Friday, I wrote of my surroundings, I mused about the way the trees cradle pockets of set-aside space in the midst of the concrete tonnage…

The talking…well, it has been an experience unlike anything I have known. I could talk for hours—we have talked for hours—at a time and still there is more to say, more to wonder together, more to discuss and consider…there is no tiring of listening… It is such a gift.

So, if the outpouring of rain now is the expense for the two days of glory, bring it on, I say. It’s rather soothing, actually…to be here with my coffee, hearing the solid, though gentle, whapping against the window…wondering what God has in store next.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

long live

long live

women trees dancing
with akimbo limbs
on branched out hips
finding their sway in the winds

women stones being
calm steadying warmth,
old wisdom that smooths
and flames within

women drums teaching
the primordial flow
of passionate energy
from one to another to the universe

women saints living,
discovering, becoming.
the glory of God
for the world

women friends loving,
holding, and listening.
Needing and sharing
and walking together


long live.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Frustrated writer at the keyboard...

Over the last several months a friend and I have established a ritual of exchanging an evening email most nights.
The length varies, but always includes wishes for a good night and good dreams. It is a simple, peaceful, care-full ritual I have come to enjoy very much. Last night, though, I wrote that there was a need to watch out because it was a frustrated writer writing that evening...

I have a piece of writing I must get done within the next two days. I have written sonnets, stories, and talks. I have written choral poems performed by grade levels and articles for international publication. Can I manage to write up a telephone conversation I had with someone? No. And that frustrates me. I took notes during the call, I listened, I spoke, I was careful. But, now that I need to write it up, nothing I try seems to convey what I need it to convey.

I find myself asking, "Where have all the definitions gone?" I thought I knew what the words meant, yet when I put them together, instead of believing they express the necessary idea, I see nothing but inadequacy... So I try again, this time writing to anticipate the questions those reading it might have. But that means writing in a way that speaks to someone else, and not to my own experience of the conversation!

It's all terribly circular thinking, I realize.

I wish I could circle around to something that would serve the need. I recognize that simple and direct is best--but not all topics lend themselves to simple expression. Or, if they do, they also beg questions by virtue of it.

The next person that tells me how easily words seem to come to me is going to get an earful--or pageful, I fear.


Sunday, May 18, 2008

The Branch

The Branch

Is a strong one, an old one.
Accustomed to the weight
of the people who choose her.
She believes in the simple joy
of offering them what beauty she can

She makes the wind
whisper in their presence,
shaping the sounds
with the perfumed scoop
of petals by the thousands.

Beyond the whisper,
there is a song in each wind.
The branch knows this
and sometimes
with a simple nod

she lets it in between
her nesting finery
to weave
soft ribbons

of arms that hold
those she chooses,
the people who find
their welcome in
her holy place.

She likes to hear
them sigh
in peace.


Monday, May 12, 2008

Weekend Words

This came after the pleasant surprise of opening a book at The Strand to "Parable of the 6th Night of Creation" by Muriel Rukeyser, having earlier in the day had a conversation with a friend about us wanting to go find a tree suitable for sitting and talking and looking.

Here's the Rukeyser bit--

The Sixth Night: Waking

That first green night of their dreaming, asleep beneath the tree,
God said, "Let meanings move," and there was poetry.

For A Friend

There's a branch on a tree
in a garden who is
waiting and bowing
to the goodness
of the wind in her leaves.

She has smoothed the bark
for leaning and sitting
and eased the view
of what is above and below
by parting her clapping greens

to reveal the mysteries
in stars and stars
and flowers and flowers
and subtly too
in the friends

swinging their legs
beside each other,
noting as they tell their stories
the nearly magical
evening change in the light.


Tuesday, May 6, 2008

It's Like This

It’s Like This

It’s like this, young one.

It’s hard to describe, young one.

It’s got no set shape,
though I’ve seen it look
like a smiling cat, a
rinse water wet plum,
and a pair of hands
pulling weeds.

It’s got no special sound,
though I’ve known it to
sing forth from a cello string,
and heard it said that
she can pray best
in silence fully alive.

There is no one feeling for her.
Sometimes it’s like a river stone,
shaped by cool refreshment.
Other times he takes on the contours
of sad mountains weeping
in loss and searching for hope.

It’s like this, young one.

It’s hard to describe, young one.

Peace is hard to describe
in words on a page.
Better to look inside
next time she whispers her name
between the beats of your
strong and noble heart.


Sunday, May 4, 2008

Good Sleep

There is talk sometimes of the "sleep of the innocent" and I do not profess to have had that any time recently. What I have had, though, for the past several nights is the sleep of one who has done much, worked much, shared much, and experienced much. It has been the immobile sleep of good exhaustion, healthy emotional and physical exertion, and being free.

On Friday I went to a farm with 49 students. I was on the bus for a total of 6 1/2 hours. Toward the end, the kids and adults, at least this adult, alike began to degrade into basic component parts... crankiness, fidgetiness, and tiredness. Following this, I went to my parish to participate in a special Anniversary Mass. After it, a woman approached me to speak for a moment. She explained that she and her husband are Jewish but attended the Mass in solidarity with their friend. It was the second anniversary of her mother's death that day and ritual obligation compelled her to light a memorial candle that would last 24 days. She hadn't had the chance to do that on Friday but wanted me to know that the manner in which I read the reading I proclaimed had fulfilled the obligation for her.

I could do nothing but take her hand with tears free rolling down my face and a heart that was flowing thanksgiving to God like a waterfall. Thanksgiving for the courage to be there, for the grace that allowed my voice to bring comfort and serve, for the opportunity to simply act as God created me and have it mean something so significant to another. One person I told of this said, "Wow, that's really a heavy thing for her to lay on you." No! No! This was not a burden, but an exchange of grace. One of the purest experiences of gift I have ever known.

The next morning I went on a walk for women's cancers with a friend. The gathering of tens of thousands in Times Square was potent for me. So many people were walking in support or in memory of people they loved. I had my number and my own sign for way too many people I have known... My friend and I began to talk and I found myself telling her about my own major surgery in 2001 that was to take care of a serious pre-cancerous condition. All was removed and there has been nothing to worry about since. She looked at me, wiped a tear from my cheek, took my hand, and said simply "I'm glad you are still here." I don't often think of that surgery in terms of what it might have become or how close I came to something far worse. The walk was another opportunity to give thanks and commit fresh to doing something for those women and men who can not for whatever reason navigate the health care system of our country.

The walk was followed by an invitation to go with her to Long Island for several events happening that day. I agreed and we went, listening to music in the car the whole while. Windows down, music loud, both of us singing. It was a glorious time.

This morning was Mass followed by an art show where a friend had a gorgeous colored pencil drawing of flowers done in a multitude of shades of purple. I left from there and actually got lost for a mile or more while wandering in a part of Manhattan that I did not know. I finally found a subway line that would work for me and hied homeward.

My heart is so very, very happy right now. Happy and full...and grateful...and feeling free. Makes for good living as well as good sleeping.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Straightforward and Obvious

6:50 AM

At the bus stop, coffee resting at my feet so that I can write, the sun still shaking aside the clouds Moon tucked around her edges last night. There’s nothing to keep her from the process and nothing to demand it, save the rustling movement of a planet in the throes of revolution.

I walked out of the house and down three steps this morning to reach the sidewalk. That was as far as I got in my initial foray to fresh encounter the world. I hit the sidewalk and became the sole object of love and adoration on the part of an intensely flurfy (think fluffy meets smiling meets kind meets tongue hanging out the side and panting for joy nearly all of the time) senior golden retriever named Savannah.

For reasons only discernable to the canine community, Savannah made like a magnet for the better part of my right leg, leaning, shoving, digging her pinfeather soft forehead into my thigh. Then she sat on my feet.

“Um, good morning. I think your dog likes me.”


The dog was in “Scratch-me-pet-me-oh my goodness does life get better?” ecstasy while the owner was in a caffeine craving morning stupor.

After a moment of worshipful ear rubs and neck smoothing, I thanked the owner and moved away.

You could almost hear the “Boy-oh-boy-oh-boy…what’s next, what’s next?” as Savannah gathered her fur and led the way toward coffee.

Somehow I think there is value to approaching the world in a way that is so straightforward and obvious.

Old dogs can teach new tricks.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Blackberries and Roses

I was told once about ten years ago that my theme song could be "Don't
Fence Me In." At the time, it did not sit well. I heard the wildness
it implied as more feral than anything else. Alone, skittish,
protective, afraid-- not words I was inclined to accept or adopt as my
own descriptors, despite any timid undercurrent of truth. Gradually,
however, I have come to see the truth in what was more likely meant
when the song was named.

The wildness is still there in me…but instead of chaotic ferality, I
think of sweet woodsy blackberries left to their own devices or roses,
thick with blooms, thorns, perfume, and a direction of their own. The
wildness is a chafing for freedom, the determination to go and see and
touch and write and root where the soil is promising. When I find that
soil, that willing, generous, accepting, plot, I can't help but bloom
and burst forth and flourish for the profound glory and wonder of the
experience. It is a beautiful feeling unlike any other.

I equate this sort of freedom with passion. What I do with that
passion, how I feel it and share it and live it, is what I try to give
back to the soil… or more accurately, to the people, who have accepted
and welcomed me for who I am…who look at the blooms and the thorns and
the fruit and say "beautiful" as I look at the people and say the
same. Such is the harmony of nature, such is the nature of

I had a friend recently write the following: "Yes, let us all move
into that which is fearsome and prove ourselves worth of the hearts
that have been given us." I responded,

"I ask, then, what heart have I been given? My heart wants to leap
and jump and write and work and serve and look and see and touch and
explore and swim and dance and hold so very gently…this is the heart I
have been given by God. An artist's heart, a dreamer's heart, a
writer's heart, a passionate heart who sees God where she looks and
feels the warm memory of her origin when she loves."

This reminds me of the Jessica Powers poem called "The Second Giving,"
in which she writes

God seeks a heart with bold and boundless hunger
that sees itself and earth as paltry stuff;
God loves a soul that casts down all he gave it
and stands and cries that was not enough.

Not wanting to be fenced in now is more of a mantle I have picked up
than a yoke laid upon me. Please, I find my heart saying to my
dearest companions, and also thank you. I offer my berries, my
blooms, my hand and heart and poetry, for you have helped bring them
into being and I have more than I can contain. As well, passionate,
glorious, humble thanks for stepping through bramble and twinings.