Thursday, February 24, 2011


I worked as a therapist specializing in the treatment of survivors of trauma--mainly poor women--for about twenty years.  And I am seven years into a career of similar length, working as a high school English teacher in a small and chronically underfunded high school in the foothills of the Berkshires.

Both of these careers, and my life in religion, evince a certain level of idealism.  I won't bother to recite the ways that each career has involved hard work and, at times, a degree of selflessness and certainly empathy, because I think most people know that, and I'm not really interested in glamorizing a choice to "make a difference."  These are the jobs I have felt led to do in the world, and it is a nice thing that they do seem to have been lines of work that have some direct impact on making people's lives a bit better, at least some of the time.

What I think is less obvious is the way that, like all meaningful work in the world, they involve an awful lot of attention to seemingly trivial, energy-sucking, ordinary real-world details.  Taking notes.  Returning phone calls.  Paying bills.  Organizing filing, grading homework, keeping a seating chart, and making sure to have enough pencils and worksheets on hand each day.

This is what I think of as the paperclips of my life.  And no matter how much meaning and purpose anyone tries to build into their life, they will never really make a difference anywhere unless they are handling paperclips.

I'm thinking about this today because, like many Quakers, I am examining the tension between faith and works.  Now, Quakers, as most people know, set quite a store on being active in the world.  We are told to
Be patterns, be examples in all countries, places, islands, nations wherever you come; that your carriage and life may preach among all sorts of people, and to them; then you will come to walk cheerfully over the world, answering that of God in everyone; whereby in them you may be a blessing, and make the witness of God in them to bless you.
We are to let our lives preach, by living out the values (sometimes summed up by Liberal Quakers as Simplicity, Peace, Integrity, Community, and Equality, or "SPICE") we hold.

As a client of mine once said, speaking of her own work against domestic violence in the aftermath of her daughter's murder, "Whenever I go to a vigil or a protest or anything like that, there they are--those Quaker people.  Who are they?  They're always there!"

Quakers have a habit of showing up, out of all proportion to our numbers.

On the other hand, Quakers also counsel each other to "test our leadings" and not "outrun our guide," meaning to wait for Spirit to prompt us into our work.  Perhaps one reason Quakers show up and continue to show up for work in the world against violence or injustice is the care we counsel one another to take to keep our work rooted in Spirit, not in ego.

How many of us have seen the phenomenon of the angry activist, feeling so isolated from a society that can seem indifferent to crying needs in the world that they have gotten into the habit, not of persuading others toward change, but ranting at others about their inability to change?  Who, rather than being fed by their work, are consumed by it, leaving a burned-out shell in place of their-once committed selves? Anger wins few converts, and rage and cynicism are lousy fuel for struggles that can take decades.

This, in part, is the reason Quakers work to keep their witness rooted in the inward stirrings of Spirit.  (In part.  In larger part, this is because the purpose of Quaker activism is faithfulness to Spirit, not effectiveness in changing the world, however deeply we do want the world to change.)

This is the theory, at least.  In reality, there is a constant sense of tension, as some Quakers are drawn more toward outward activism and others, to holding a spiritual center for their communities, through eldering, deep listening (to God and to others) and prayer.  Prayerful Quakers sometimes suspect activist Quakers of becoming secular and cut off from the deep well of Spirit that should water everything we do... and activist Quakers sometimes suspect prayerful Quakers of becoming quietist, or worse, self-indulgent navel-gazers.

Both of those fears are of stereotypes, but there is just enough truth in the stereotypes to fuel tension.  And some individual Friends, and some meetings of Friends, do conform closely enough to one or the other stereotypes to make us all worry, sometimes in a pretty counterproductive way.

I worry a lot... about myself, not about Friends as a whole, so much.  I understand, in theory, that I need to be both active and outward in living out a witness in the world, and that I need to simplify my life and carve out "times of retirement" as the old-time Quakers would have said, to become still, center down, and really listen for that Light to guide me.

I'm not so sure I'm very good at either of those things, but I know I worry more that I am complacent--no, lazy.  Sedentary, a home-body.  Does Spirit need a crow bar to so much as get me out my front door?  Do I refuse to even hear leadings, simply because I'm tired, or it's cold outside, or I don't want to get back into the car at the end of a day of work?  I love to go to meeting.  I love to center down, feel the Spirit close to me, like silk on my skin, sunlight on my upturned face... but is that just another form of spiritual sightseeing,  New Age bliss?

"Am I doing enough?" I wonder.

Or is it possible that "Am I doing enough?" is the wrong question?  Should I be asking, "Am I listening?  Am I being faithful?" and releasing the questions about enough and not-enough, lazy or not-lazy, effective or not-effective.

Am I, perhaps, doing just what I am supposed to be doing?  Is it enough (that word again!) to try to teach fifteen year olds something about compassion and listening and a delight in the written word--under the pretense of teaching grammar and vocabulary and Shakespeare--while trying to live a life that is inwardly as well as outwardly consistent with the Spirit of Peace I feel in meeting?

Is my end-of-day, end-of-semester, end-of-school-year exhaustion from grading essays, running off photocopies, not shouting at the provocative teens and listening to the lonely ones perhaps spiritual work after all?

Are my paperclips mere distractions, or are they the shape the Work actually takes in my life?

Quakers set a high bar for action in the world.  I know Quakers who have helped bring clean water to villages in Cambodia and Kenya, who spend many of their weekends in prisons teaching alternatives to violence, teach traumatized survivors of African genocides to become trauma counselors themselves, or who carry a message of forgiveness and compassion in the aftermath of the murders of their own family members.

I know Quakers who are in prisons themselves for their non-violent resistance to torture and war, and who have risked their lives to bring food to hungry people in war zones.  And these are not men and women with trust funds who do this as a hobby, and they are often men and women who must hold down other, paying work (as I do) in addition to their witness in the world.  They, too, must often be tired.  Perhaps they, too, are reluctant to leave their homes behind, get in a car, board a plane, be hot, be cold, be inconvenienced--let alone have cause to be afraid or alone.

One of my Quaker heroes is Eden Grace.  Eden Grace is what, in the old days, would have been called a missionary--and she is fully aware of, and struggles to rise above the the reasons for the negative implications of that word.  Her job is not converting anyone to a religion.  Indeed, her job is one that, were it not for the setting of her work, might be considered to be a fairly prosaic one, in the world of human services: she is a hospital administrator.

She's a hospital administrator for some chronically underfunded hospitals in Kenya, at the heart of an AIDS crisis.  Which is kind of cool, and definitely takes a kind of courage--just the act of uprooting your family, your husband and your two kids, and flying halfway around the world to live takes that.  But I'm sure the job itself involves all the minutiae--the paperclips--of administrative jobs anywhere.  Checking the books.  Figuring out how to meet payroll.  Anticipating what resources will be needed--staffing, supplies, medicines, and so on.  I suspect that, 90% of the time, Eden's work is hard to tell from similar work anywhere in the world.  She just happened to have the right set of skills, and the leading, at a time when this program needed her to do this job, and so she is doing it.  That is not why Eden is my hero.

The reason Eden is my hero is because of one story she tells of one day, when she was at work in her office at the hospital.  She was, as it happened, going over payroll, trying to figure out some way to make the limited resources of the hospital stretch enough to meet it, when she happened to glance out of the window.

Now, in Kenya as in much of the developing world, many small things we take for granted are simply not there, by way of infrastructure.  Most Kenyans dispose of their waste, not by sending it to lined landfills, but in trash pits, where they burn their refuse.  This hospital had such a trash pit; waste from the hospital, including medical waste, is burned on premises.

Eden looked out her window and saw the hard-working hospital custodian at work at the trash pit, burning their waste, compacting it and stamping it down where it needed to go.

In his bare feet.

Remember, this is an AIDS hospital.  (Think, needles.  Think, sharps.  Think, HIV.)

And, of course, her heart fell.  Because there he was, the living, human, individual illustration of the equation she had in front of her on a spreadsheet:  as she struggled to find a way to meet payroll at all, there stood a man whose life was literally endangered by her inability to pay him a wage sufficient for him to afford a pair of boots.

She did buy him a pair of boots. That is not, however, the point.

The takeaway for me is something about those goddamn energy-sucking, time-eating, heart-breaking paperclips: the spreadsheets and budgets and photocopies and worksheets of our world.

They matter.  Matter in a life and death kind of a way, actually, even though it never, ever feels like it.

From the outside, a lot of the things Quakers do, from going to prison for non-violent resistance actions, to bringing clean water to a rural village in Cambodia, look dramatic and sweeping and grand.

But up close, I'm willing to bet it's almost all paperclips, every single day.

And if we are looking to a sense of making a difference in a sweeping and grand kind of a way, for confirmation that we're Doing It Right, we're going to blow it.  Because it's in the details of faithfulness, those everlasting paperclip details of any significant work, that most of what we do really gets accomplished... whether in Kenya, or in small schools in New England.

It doesn't answer the question, "Am I being faithful?" to notice this.  But it is one important way for me to stay sane.  In any meaningful work in the world,  the second-by-second willingness to attend to prosaic details probably matters as much or more than any grand sense of leading, or of purpose.  Yeah, we need those, too, and we need to listen for them when they come.

But then comes the carrying it out.  In actions that are small, patient, and often tiring.  Focusing on the small is also part of the job; it doesn't mean we're doing it wrong.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Peter on Tending Both Wells

Cat has been involved lately with a spiritual accountability group through our Quaker meeting. The idea is that small groups of Friends meet and talk on a regular basis to help each other stay fresh and focused in their spiritual lives. It got me wondering, what would “spiritual accountability” (or “spiritual faithfulness” to use a term I like better) mean in a Pagan context?

I have no desire to be part of a spiritual accountability group in a Quaker context. I think I do a pretty good job of holding and living out my Quaker values. I listen for God. I look for the integrity in other people. I hold myself low down to the Truth. I stay rooted in experience. I participate fully and deeply in corporate discernment. And I know when I need to lay things down to simplify my life, and one of the first things I would lay down, if I had one, would be a spiritual accountability group.

But I am not as good a Pagan as I am a Quaker. Spiritual faithfulness as a Pagan would mean…
  • Remembering always the sacredness and the energy of the Earth, and never straying very far from that connection.
  • Checking in with my Gods and staying connected with Them. Being open, not just to the Transcendent Spirit, but also to the very personal and intimate relationships with my Patron Deities. Remembering to listen for the ways They love us, support us, challenge us, kick us in the ass, and goad us to become more than we already are.
  • Maintaining some sort of regular magickal practice, whether it be Tarot or trance journey or spellcasting or whatever. Something that keeps the psychic centers of my brain pried open so that when I return to Quaker meeting, I can hear the silence better and feel the presence of Spirit covering the meeting.
Quaker readers and Pagan readers will both be confused by my talking about the Pagan Gods and the Holy Spirit in practically the same breath, but over the years of having a dual faith I have grown comfortable with using both sets of vocabulary without bothering to stop and add qualifiers to either one. God and the Gods are both manifestations of the Divine, perhaps at different focal lengths, or different levels of the Kabalistic tree. Both sets of images are indispensable to my spiritual life. But my practice of the worship of the Old Gods has withered considerably over the past decade, and along with it, a too much of the juiciness of my Quaker worship has leeched away. The two practices are not in competition for me; they complement one another. Pagan ritual opens me up to the movement of the Holy Spirit, and Quaker worship deepens and makes whole my relationship with the Old Gods. Both suffer if I neglect either one.

I remember a time at a Pagan gathering a few years ago when I was thinking, wow, it’s a full moon and I’m here at this gathering and there’s a ford in a stream that I have to cross every time I go to my tent. Wouldn’t it be cool to take my sterling silver athame and consecrate it in that ford under the full moon? And deciding, no, I’m too tired and it’s late and it’s dark and it would be too much trouble right before going to bed. And then discovering that I had lost my athame, that it had fallen out of its scabbard somewhere between the dining hall and my tent. I went looking for it with a flashlight, muttering under my breath about what a pain in the ass it was. And found it—yes—glittering in the moonlight amidst the pebbles at the bottom of the water right in the middle of the ford.

The message I take from that (if you can reduce such an experience to a “message”) is that the magick will always be with me, that it will follow me whether I pay attention or not.

But the other message is that I should open my eyes and look, now and then, because there are magickal things to see.

Note: This post arose out of conversations with Cat about her recent post, "A Ministry of Brokenness."

A Ministry of Brokenness

A few weeks ago, a Friend in my meeting approached me, and in the gentlest and tenderest way possible, suggested that some of what I had spoken in meeting for worship was less Spirit-led ministry and more a need to seek and receive support for personal burdens.*

I am still holding this Friend's concern close to me.  For those who don't already know: messages in a Quaker meeting are, at least in theory, prompted not by our personal lives, however keenly felt, nor by our own thoughts and ideas, but by Spirit.  Friends describe a variety of discernment tools for gauging which promptings are rooted in Spirit, and which are not, and, having attended a few "meetings for good ideas," I can say with no question that I prefer meeting for worship.

It is a painful thought, that I might have spoken from any root but a leading of Spirit.  I am trying to respond neither with defensiveness and a hasty denial that I might do such thing, nor a wash of shame and an immediate acceptance that the Friend's suggestion must be correct simply because it was made at all.

The truth is, I do speak often in meeting for worship, and I do speak often from the sometimes painful edges of my personal experience.  On the other hand,  I'm confident that I do not generally turn to speaking in meeting as a substitute for other forms of support and discernment in my life--because I know I have good support for my emotional needs. 

However, it is true that I speak easily and freely, and that I don't have a lot of shyness around public speaking to hold me back.  What's more, I am not one of those Quakers who feels great reluctance to speak in meeting; when Spirit does move me to stand and share a message, I love the feeling of it--not for the attention I garner, but for the deep joy flowing through me with the nearness of Spirit.

That's not a problem... but it is reason to be wary of speaking too freely and too often.  I may do that.  I need to be open to that possibility, and go carefully.

However, I've heard it said that  genuine vocal ministry will avoid the words I, me, or my.  This, I think, is untrue.

It's a fact that the writings of early Quakers--including their memoirs--seem oddly impersonal by the standards of a modern reader, and I'm certainly not implying they were "doing it wrong."  But perhaps the place of the Bible in the early Quaker movement, much more familiar than it is in modern Quaker meetings, allowed for personal identification with the characters of that book.  In the stories of the struggles of figures like Job, or Moses, or Saul and David, I suspect early Quakers were able to see their own struggles reflected, and that what today seem like fleeting and indirect mentions of this passage or that would bring up whole stories and states of mind for early Friends.

I don't think that Biblical allusions accomplish that in modern meetings, even where all Friends present might be Christian.

Partly for that reason, I think that there is a place for the personal, the experiential, the subjective, and the real in vocal (or written) ministry today: for I, me, and my.

I know that such ministry is often what touches me the most, whether from a Friend in my meeting, or a Quaker or Pagan blogger, or a published mainstream author,  like Anne Lamott.  I respond best to spiritual witness that is personal, real, and vulnerable.

I am aware that I have made such messages something of a stock in trade, here as well as in worship.  I've come to think of it, in fact, as a ministry of brokenness.

It's not that I'm reluctant to share my joys too, but I think that my best writing often comes out of my fear and pain--my weakness, and not my strength.  I think I just sense the nearness of Spirit more clearly when I am afraid--and I think Spirit speaks through me best when I allow that sense of vulnerability and brokenness to be visible, not safely tucked away.

I often speak and write from that place.

A number of us at my meeting have begun exploring something going under the name "Spiritual Accountability Groups."  The idea of spiritual accountability is that, in a religious practice that is grounded in community as well as in Spirit, we owe one another a duty to help each other discern how best to be faithful to that Spirit--to give and receive what corporate (in the old-time Quaker sense of "the body" of a church community, not in the newer sense of CEOs) help we can.

This is a touchy notion in a society as individualistic as that of modern America, even in the context of the Religious Society of Friends, a group with 350 years of practice in corporate spiritual techniques.   It can be hard to speak in any language of things as inchoate and personal as leadings and gifts.  (I know it is for me--far more than speaking of my struggles and faults!)

And it can be frightening to name these stirrings to others if we are not sure they know how to listen deeply before rushing to judgment.

This is tender work,  and real pain could result either from an accountability group deteriorating into advice-giving, condemning, or even flattering or praising without really understanding a leading being shared.

On the part of a listener, there's a need to move slowly and listen deeply, and to stay low while we do so.  And on the part of a sharer, there's a need to be courageous, and to speak the truth as clearly and with as little gloss as we can manage, holding all things up for clear-eyed examination together in Spirit.

I was speaking with another Quaker engaging in this process, who is beginning to feel the stirrings of a newly-named gift, and contemplating contacting others who are said to have similar gifts.  She spoke of her fear and her hesitancy in doing so.  (I very much had the sense that her naming her fear was not in order to be reassured, but for the same reason a Buddhist names a powerful emotional state: in order to see it clearly and not be controlled by it.)

We sat with that for a bit--I have no doubt she will make those calls if and when it is right for her to do so, for she is a remarkably courageous woman.

Then I commented that, when I feel what seems to me to be a similar fear, I write about it.  And then I publish it on the World Wide Web.

She laughed, with a sudden, ringing laugh.  It sounded like a laugh of startlement, even a laugh of recognition--though it might have been recognition of difference as much as similarity.

It is pretty funny, when I think about it.

But this is how I name my demons.  I mean, once you've put them onto the Internet, for everyone who knows you, including your mother, to see, well, what is left to be afraid of after that, right?

I do not mean to imply that simply being publicly vulnerable is the same thing as vocal ministry.  I am told--though it was well before my time--that there was a bit of a fad during the 1970's for using meeting for worship as if it was an encounter group, with lots of personal confessions that were... well, personal.  TMI--too much information.  I don't want to contribute to that, and I don't want to be guilty of that--though in truth, I don't want to be guilty of speaking what is not a Spirit-prompted message in worship ever, at all.

I want to be faithful.

And for me, part of what keeps me faithful is my willingness to be thoroughly visible, warts and all.  I'm not advocating exhibitionism.  Radical plainness of presence, maybe? 

I'm not actually strong enough to allow the whole world to be my spiritual accountability committee.  I know that: I flare up in instantaneous anger around some people, and there are ways of communicating I find so alienating that I'm almost unable to listen beneath them to the heart of the person who is using them.

But allowing the world to step forward and tell me when I put my foot wrong has been very useful to me in developing a kind of 24/7 Quaker practice.  I would not say that I feel the Presence of the Light of Peace every minute of every day, nor anything like it.  But I do feel it a lot, and especially when I'm writing.

That doesn't make everything I write a message.  But my willingness to be open and vulnerable, and my sense of the nearness of Spirit as I write... does make some of what I am writing here a kind of ministry.

Sometimes I do write about my brokenness and my struggles because I trust you, my readers, to help shine light on my dark places.

But also, very often, I write them because I know that not only is this what so often speaks to me in the words of others, but because I know that my words do often speak to others in that same way.

I know because you have told me so.  But even more importantly, I also know because sometimes--not all the time, but sometimes--I can feel the weight of Spirit moving in my chest as I write.  I feel an urgency that has nothing to do with the personal, despite the fact that what is personal is what my stories are couched in.

At those times, I can feel a kind of joy when the words leave my lips in meeting, or when I hit "publish" on my blog.  It's like watching the flight of an arrow that has left the bow, and I don't want praise for it, or admiration, or envy.  I just want that arrow to fly true.

Glenn Larson
There is a place in my work for caution, discernment, and self-questioning.  And there is a place in that work for sudden laughter, lightness, and watching something that shines as it cuts through the sky.

*I should probably note that this Friend has a history of service on our Ministry and Worship committee--is, in fact, recognized for a kind of gift in eldering--and has also enough of a relationship with me that she could know of my longstanding concern for ministry, and that I would want her to speak to me as she did.  Generally speaking, most liberal Quaker meetings have a committee which undertakes to provide feedback--"eldering"--where it is needed, and individual members are discouraged from approaching one another with even implied criticism of vocal ministry.  

This was an example, in my opinion, of genuine and loving eldering.  My Friend was faithful.  I am attempting to be faithful, too, in really sifting and discerning her insights.

I do not, however, want to give the impression that "vigilante eldering" is in any way a good idea.  This is sensitive work, only to be undertaken in great love and humility, and ideally, after discernment and prayer.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Deepening Into Impurity: The Perfect is the Enemy of the Good

Lots of plastic waste since our last report--though the majority of it was old and will be recyclable.  Still, in only two weeks, we added 2 lbs 5 oz of plastic to the waste stream.

Some of that is a result of deepening into impurity.  And that, I think, is actually a good thing.

Most religions have a set of teachings on ritual purity.  The notion that something is impure automatically sets it apart from what is considered to be right and good in many cases.  And I'm aware that one trend, in environmental books and blogging, is toward pure and extreme forms of personal change.  Colin Beavan attempts to become, not, "Less Impact Man" but "No Impact Man."  Beth Terry attempts to live a life entirely free from plastic.  Novella Carpenter attempts to feed herself entirely from the food she grows herself, in her urban garden.

There is something in the American psyche that likes extremes.  We want to see, not energy conservation, but living entirely off the grid, in a solar-powered eco-pod.  We want to eat not simply less meat and local food that is in season, but food grown in skyscraper farms, or city dwellers who feed themselves solely from the produce they grow in their own front yards.

In some ways, this is a good thing: people who commit to dramatic demonstrations of personal change can be deeply inspiring.  They have been for me, at any rate.

But on another level, it turns a personal, social, and even a spiritual witness into a kind of contest: doing all your own laundry on a bicycle-powered washing-machine is cool, but if you get caught using an electric toothbrush, you're busted--you lose.

It's interesting to me how open the writers I mentioned above are about their own struggles with this.  Colin Beavan ultimately concluded that, useful as the "No Impact" experiment can be, finding ways to reach out and have a positive impact is more important still.  Beth Terry wrote of being willing to say "screw the plastic"--at least temporarily--when it came to medical supplies for her ailing mother during a crisis.  And Novella Carpenter ultimately decided that the best use of an urban garden is not to provide total sustenance for a single person, but to be the heart of a community of city-dwellers willing to share food, friendship, and skills with one another.

Purity is a pretty trivial obsession, in the context of all the competing demands to do good in the world.

That's not a rationalization: it's a reality.  There are many forms of good, in the world of environmentalism, as well as in other areas of spiritual and ethical concern.  When we forget that, we can become parodies of ourselves, and self-defeating.

As when many environmentalists responded to Colin Beavan's project with anger.  By focusing on personal change, wasn't he invalidating social and political action?

As when Bill McKibben's advocated for the restoration of solar cells to the roof of the White House--removed by Ronald Reagan, their restoration now makes a symbolic statement, at least, around the importance of renewable energy and the reduction of our carbon footprint as a nation.

A statement some found issue with, as distracting from the far more attainable goal of conservation.  Wouldn't a clothesline on the roof of the White House be a better statement?

I'm not kidding.  This was a small but serious controversy this past year.  And I just don't get it: I think it's pretty clear we need conservation and renewable energy both; we need personal change and social activism both.

I think we like our progress perfect, even if that means unachievable and abstract, not the product of compromise and learning curves, effort and mistakes.  We act as though purity, not change and growth, was the most important variable.

My environmentalism is not perfect.  It's damned important to me... but it's full of contradictions, errors, and changes in my understanding.

The spark that got me making major changes was my concern around plastic, and that has not changed.  But as I've eliminated single-use plastic from my life, and cut back dramatically on what plastic waste I generate, that concern has widened to embrace a whole series of environmental concerns: concerns with waste production generally, with deforestation, with climate change and with the environmental (and human, and animal) costs of factory farming.

If I were pure in my concern around plastic, I'd be fine with eating factory farmed turkey sausage--provided it was packaged in cardboard, without a plastic liner.

Yes, that product exists, and it has been a staple in our house for some time now.  I just can't bring myself to buy it anymore.

Instead, I've found local sources of chicken and turkeys--and I just may try my hand at cooking a goose or a duck one day soon, too.  When I know the farmer, and I know they are farming sustainably, I feel good about buying from them.

But I haven't (yet) found a way to obtain that food without at least one layer of plastic wrapping.  Weigh the costs of factory farming--the pollution of air and water, the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, the cruelty to the animals, the dehumanization of the "farmers" who work in that system, and the petrochemicals required to process and transport that food to my plate--and that plastic bag starts to look pretty small.

Nonetheless, it makes my witness against plastic imperfect, impure.  My growing awareness of the importance of sustainable agriculture has compromised my original principle of seeking to eliminate plastic waste from my life entirely.

And I'm OK with that.  Because whoever said that "the perfect is the enemy of the good" was right.  If we wait until we completely understand all the implications of all of our actions to begin to seek change, we will never begin at all.  And if we cleave to some sterile notion of perfection, defending the purity of our acts against new insights whenever they may compete with our original inspirations, we will lose the chance to deepen into a wiser, more powerful witness.

I am deepening into my environmental witness as the months go by.  I feel clearer about the root of it all the time.  Purity seems like a distraction to me, and I have a lot to do.

Thursday, February 03, 2011

A Pagan Is One Who

A Pagan is one who, when you ask him what he holds most sacred, pauses a moment for thought.   And then he answers, and when he answers, it is with a list.

It will be a long list.

Photo by Lin Kristensen

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

For This Year's Brighid Poetry Festival

Let the candles flame
Soft against the cutting cold
Ice and mounting snow.

For the fire wakes
Soon, and leaps into the sky.
Ice will melt; sap, flow.

Today, sleet whispers
But deep within the branch and
root of Life lurks spring.

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