Where does inspiration lie? Everywhere!

This is my attempt to pounce on and then shape the words I breathe.

Please join me with your comments and make this a dialogue . . . and visit Susan's Poetry!

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Resolutions of a writer who hasn't been writing, of an activist who has been inactive


A few weeks ago I had a meltdown.  Oh, I wailed, nothing is working out!  

  • I have a novel half way done that I haven't looked at for almost 2 years, 
  • My father is now in a nursing home with dementia, 
  • One of my best friends has a nasty cancer, 
  • I'm a clerk of a Monthly Meeting whose members rarely attend,
  • Students don't show up for tutoring or come very late,
  • I skip business-like meetings myself,
  • Others attend protests while I wait to be led and I take more classes,
  • I forget to do my PT exercises,
  • I don't want to do all the cleaning and fixing my house needs, and
  • I have two cats who don't love me--or aren't affectionate.

I determined to put down all of my worries and "just have fun."

When I asked my long-time friend and housemate to help me make a list of fun things, she laughed.  That will be a short list, she said, See film. That's what she does for fun.  

Besides, she continued.  You'll never do it.  You'll feel guilty about everything.

I considered that a challenge.  Since then I have seen 4 movies, read 2 books, attended a read-a-thon and a concert. I've cut my volunteer teaching in half.  I've made plans to walk where I haven't tread before. and to borrow her car for day trips to the Jersey shore.  I've only felt guilty about some of it.

Giving myself permission to have fun has increased the time I spend in meditative and prayer modes. Recently, I've glanced at both, spent seconds in them, and rushed through ritual I had developed over time.  It's good to slow down again, to be present to myself.  To write more poetry.


An odd source of help for this change has been Session 2 of the AFSC webinar "Changing Systems, Changing Ourselves: anti-racist practice for Sanctuary, accompaniment, and resistance" ~ CSCO for short. Facilitators focused the second session on how those in sanctuary experience their would-be allies. Panelists were not all bilingual so we would hear first in Spanish and waited for the English translation. Leaders said they wanted us to experience how much slower things go when translation is involved. They also modeled for us how to decenter English as the standard communication tool. To participate, I found I not only slowed down, but became more present than impatient: I stopped anticipating what people would say or do. This meant I occupied the moment and listened more completely. I became intent. I listened intentionally, centering the speakers. I can only hint at how amazing this bilingual session was, with the very insistence of it changing me. I remember the theatre theorist, Antonin Artaud, speaking of hearing an unknown language as an important way to dive beneath the surface in "Theatre and its Double." I thought he was speaking only of rhythms, emotions and emphases ~ but I now know he was speaking of letting go of the ego entirely to be present. To be fascinated.
Further, two of the CSCO speakers offered advice: Make the relationship the priority, not the task. This is more than letting the one who needs assistance be the leader. It is where the spiritual gift resides for the ally as well as the one in conflict. Maybe less will be done, but it will be more important, more human/spirit, more helpful and more gifting for my own spirit. 

Deciding to have fun is opening gates for me.  Time will tell.  Right now I have to practice.


Saturday, March 4, 2017

In the Mood of Tesseract*

My mood is from time folding, as described in A Wrinkle in Time , a young adult science fantasy novel written by  Madeleine L'Engle. The novel was published in the times I'm folding back to, but I'm sure I didn't read it until the end of undergraduate college days, 10 years later.  Here's how Wikipedia writers describe L'Engle's tesseract:  
In the novel, the tesseract functions more or less like what in modern science-fiction is called a space warp or a wormhole, a portal from one area of space to another which is possible through the bending of the structure of the space-time continuum. This meaning is unrelated to the mathematical notion of a tesseract, a shape analogous to a cube in a space with four spatial dimensions.

Schlegel wireframe 8-cell.png
Schlegel diagram
of the mathematical concept

The mood and its music is anxious and emergency and nostalgic simultaneously as the conditions that moved me in my youthful anti-Vietnam War work seem to be recurring in the expanding War on Terrorism the USA has engaged in since the 9/11/2002 attacks on the USA.

Origami rabbit ear fold.

What's new in me is awareness of white supremacy, particularly how it shows itself in European and upper-class and male privilege. Back in the 1960s, I was a barely-emerged feminist with a lot of experience trying to have Black community without understanding why I was distrusted.  Ha!  That's a book waiting to be written. I am still in the process of transforming while learning how to, in Amanda Kemp's words, "hold a space for transformation to occur."

What's new out there is (1) the area of the world hardest hit by hatred and extremism, and (2) social media which spreads video and words almost at once.  The USA otherwise is much the same, with less opportunity and more contradictory and often fake news. There are too many words obscuring truth.  What cuts through it at all is youth--once again, youth--this time the issues may still be categorized under freedom of speech, but much more is at stake. This includes our democracy and two-party system.

I am relieved to be 50 years older and no longer a leader.  At any moment, I can go online and find several ways to be involved praying on my feet.  I am relieved to be less impulsive and innocent, to be waiting on direction from God, to be willing to speak in spirit language that includes my faith and expresses faithfulness.  I am relieved to have support in faith that doesn't measure faithfulness in terms of religion.

On this Saturday noon, I'm sitting home and listening to the old songs. I wrote a poem earlier: "Morning After," and yesterday: "Writing Into Transformation,"
and wrote this reflection today. That's more than I've written for a while, so I feel more satisfied today than I have been able to for a while.  I'm sending this to Jennifer Elam, my writing partner, who is far away in Doha, Qatar for two months of awakening and health.  While she is gone from February through April, I have given myself a writing retreat, an imperative and joyous permission to work on my novel.  This is as close as I've come.  I'm trying to be grateful for what I can do instead of frustrated that everything I've learned is just a beginning. Though I suppose it's better to have everything beginning than ending. Oh, yes, beginning is a gift.  Each day we wake is a gift. I want to live it with complete awareness of God's presence, the meaning of the life of Jesus.

I'll write more as way opens.


Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Writing Into Transformation

a workshop with Dr. Amanda Kemp

To hold the space for transformation, we are 
learning, can be more important than

to make a point or to be certain that “those others” don’t 
mistakenly believe

we are with them.  We want a larger we. We want to grow able 
to love and to

critique ourselves simultaneously—a muscle that is 

So DANCE.  Find out where you each hold your breath and feel it ease under loving attention. How you create the space for transforming is by discovering that you are frozen

in formal bias and letting it ease within loving attention.  Oh.  
WE ease

and Melt THEM, breathe and direct attention to them, 
opening up the door to love

without conditions or defensive moves. In this homebase for transformation, we

give “those others” a chance to change, we take a chance on 
trusting an unfamiliar

procedure.  Oh.  We melt.  We speak our truth in order to 
connect, to hear their truths,

to meet them in space for transformation. If I say it often enough, it’s true. I think we can, I think we can.  To climb to transformation peak, to grow ourselves.

Exercising critique and love muscles in us, we contemplate 
and wait on God.

We take care of our soul and their souls, too. Oh.  How 
wonderful the parallel acts:

of releasing bodies, of holding space for transformation, 
and of opening

the door with time with curiosity with God and them and we--
expanding we.  I see.


Saturday, January 7, 2017

Be it resolved ...

No, that's passive voice, legalese, Quakerspeak. I resolve--that's better--an active choice--that I will blog here at least once every two weeks on Friday afternoons or soon thereafter.

The parts I like in this blog are from when I was on a creative high and writing daily, bringing process thoughts here every other day, writing to think.

Since then, I have written a lot, mostly poems, but taken few pauses.


  • I am still writing with Jennifer in a productive weekly write and share event for which I am most grateful.  It meets a need for both of us and often helps us through blockades set up by us or others. It's also a question time, a praise time.
  • I am still visiting Poets United weekly, taking part in its small team of collaborators.  
  • I am still attending NewCORE monthly and following Ruby Sales, Reverend Barber, Black Lives Matter, and SURJ.  
  • I am still alive in all of my own isms: aging, women's rights, LGBT diversity, equality, environment.
  • I've finished the work of Marcelle's course on Living in Love based on her book Our Life is Love.
  • I've started the work of Eileen's course on Being Made for this Moment
  • In preparation for accepting my leadings, I am working on one New Year's resolution--only one: to unknot and dispel negative thinking and end debilitating negative interior monologues. This is  "living in love." 
  • In keeping with my resolution, I have withdrawn from my URG #2 planning group.  I love our project to set up a Co-Creating Racial Justice program on the model of the Spiritual Discipline program of BYM.  I believe it's needed and brilliant, but I get so many negative thoughts about waiting and making mistakes in the realm of undoing racism that I have to let go.  I have to heal myself.  The problem isn't really with anyone else but me and my own privilege. If I can stay in conversations about race and intervene in white supremacy and hate speech more directly I will hurt and heal more productively.  I said I'd be on call for direct action.
  • I've been wanting to tutor, so I'm working on setting that up starting with 1x a week. That is what I will establish in the next two weeks, I think. Reading Eileen Flanagan's book Renewable: One Woman’s Search for Simplicity, Faithfulness, and Hope reminded me again that my search is also the journey of her subtitle.
That's all for today folks. I have avoided mentioning the elephant in the room--the fact that DT is the President Elect.  A shock like 9/11. An unthinkable that makes all liberals have to reevaluate our intentional living, especially those who worked for other candidates.  I worked for Hillary Clinton.

I'll write more as way opens.

Oh!  One more thing.  This was Richard Rohr's exercise today--totally timely:
Turn it upside down and say, in first person, present tense, an affirmation of your God-given value. For example:
I am unlovable. . . . I am infinitely loved.
I don’t have enough. . . . I have everything I need.
I am stupid. . . . I have the mind of Christ.
I am worthless. . . . I am precious in God’s eyes, I am honored, and God loves me.
Repeat the positive statement aloud, slowly, with intention and trust, several times. Then rest silently in the awareness that you are already and forever, without any effort or achievement on your part, a beloved child of God.

Gateway to Silence:
Create in me a new heart, O God.