AdventWord by the Society of Saint John the Evangalist

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The Brothers of the Society of Saint John the Evangelist have created an online Advent Calendar called #AdventWord. They send a word a day with a short meditation and invite us to take a picture which represents that word and share it via Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. I’m planning on participating by posting a picture and a short poem for each day’s word.

Today’s word is “Wake Up,” and the meditation they sent with it is:

Look clearly and honestly at your life–and take action. Now. For now is the time to waken out of sleep. This is the watchman’s trumpet call–the clarion call of Advent. Now is the time for you–a choice to be made, a decision to be taken.

My photo is above, and this is my short haiku to go with it:

Wake Up! Awaken
From the darkness where we sleep
Into God’s pure light.

Sign up and share your photos and thoughts!

Happy Advent!

I forgot what I could do . . .

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I finished a great three weeks with the Hudson Valley Writing Project last week–learning, writing, and forming a community with other teachers. It made me sad that I’m not returning to my own classroom this fall, but . . . I know that something’s going to happen from this!

In the meantime, I did a lot of writing during those three weeks, and I want to share this with you (and get your thoughts on it). Which version of the poem do you like better, the first–more existential–one, or the second–love–poem?!

“because it never forgot what it could do.”

—from “Famous” by Naomi Shihab Nye

 

I forgot what I could do.

I forgot that I could laugh and

that I could cry.

I forgot that I could sing . . .

in the shower,

Where no one else would hear me,

My voice ringing out sure and strong.

 

I forgot that I could carry . . .

I could carry wood from the yard to the house;

I could carry the groceries in from the car;

I could carry chicken soup up the stairs

to you when you were sick.

 

I forgot that I could see . . .

I could see the stars at night,

flickering on and off in the night sky;

I could see the stars at dusk,

fireflies flickering across the lawn;

I could see you across the room,

even if I couldn’t see you.

 

I forgot that I could remember . . .

I could remember our first date;

I could remember the feel of your hand,

sweaty palm in my own sweaty palm;

I could remember last night’s kiss goodnight.

 

I forgot that I could do all this.

I could laugh and cry and sing.

I could carry and see and remember.

All this I can do.

 

I can be.

It is enough to be,

to laugh,

to cry,

to sing,

to carry,

to see,

to remember,

to be in this world.

It is enough to be.

_______________________________________________________

“because it never forgot what it could do.”

—from “Famous” by Naomi Shihab Nye

 

I forgot what I could do.

I forgot that I could laugh and

that I could cry.

I forgot that I could sing . . .

in the shower,

Where no one else would hear me,

My voice ringing out sure and strong.

 

I forgot that I could carry . . .

I could carry wood from the yard to the house;

I could carry the groceries in from the car;

I could carry chicken soup up the stairs

to you when you were sick.

 

I forgot that I could see . . .

I could see the stars at night,

diamonds sparkling in the velvet sky;

I could see the fireflies at dusk,

stars sparkling across the lawn;

I could see you across the room,

even if I couldn’t see you.

 

I forgot that I could remember . . .

I could remember our first date;

I could remember the feel of your hand,

sweaty palm reaching out for sweaty palm;

I could remember last night’s kiss goodnight.

 

I forgot that I could do all this.

I could laugh and cry and sing.

I could carry and see and remember.

 

All this I can do.

 

I can be.

It is enough to be.

 

To be in this world

—to laugh, to cry, to sing, to carry, to see, to remember—

with you.


 

Germ(ination)Theory

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Several weeks ago I wrote a post, Germ Theory, about how “germs” lie at the middle of most snowflakes and stories. A recent story on NPR’s All Things Considered, “Why Do Some Clouds Drop Rain, While Others Don’t?”, brought this idea back up to me:

Because ice is a very picky process. Ice only likes to form on certain surfaces. Dust seems to be very good. Bacteria, biological particles appear to be very good.

And, that brought me back to the poem that I wrote for Germ Theory:

     Writer

I am a collector.

A collector of words,
Of thoughts,
Dreams,
Hopes.

A collector of sights,
Of sounds,
Smells,
Tastes.

I collect feelings,
Memories,
Emotions,
In lovely little
Lined boxes.

Like this one
With the color of your eyes,
The smell of your hair,
And the salty taste of your neck.

Or, this box,
High on the shelf.
I take it down
And hug it to my chest.
Inside, the first time I saw you,
Our first date,
Our wedding.

I collect them all, 
Waiting to weave them together
In a tapestry,
Our story.

It germinated some and has grown into this:

     Writer

I am a collector.

A collector of words,
Of thoughts,
Dreams, and
Hopes,

In lovely little

Lined boxes.

A collector of sights,
Of sounds,
Smells,
Tastes.

I collect feelings,
Memories,
Emotions,
Pressed between the pages.

I pull the pages apart

And find
The gray-green sea of your eyes,
The ocean smell of your hair after swimming,

And the salty taste of your neck.

Or, in this box,
High on the shelf.
I take it down
And hug it to my chest.
Inside, the first time I saw you,
Our first date,
Our wedding.

I collect them all, 
Waiting to weave them together
In a tapestry,
Our tapestry.

Our story.

Just as buds are sometimes prettier than their flowers, I’m not sure which one is “prettier,” the fist—bud—version or the second—bloom—version. You tell me!

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Germ Theory

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It’s snowing here, in the Catskills. Again.  This will go on top of the four inches from yesterday that went on top of the three feet already on the ground. It’s been quite a winter, and I can only imagine what the spring thaw—called the “Mud Season” around here—will be like! For now, though, it’s beautiful.  Unlike in the City, the snow here stays mostly white (until the Mud Season), except for the border of plowed snow along the roads.

I took our dog, Lily, out for a walk after the snow stopped yesterday, and I got to thinking. Thinking about snow and writing. Not the kind of writing that you do in the snow—you know, the kind made famous by the book, Yellow Snow, by I.P. Freely. Not that. I got to thinking how snowing is like the act of writing.

I read a story over the weekend that “germs are the most common snowflake starters and lie at the heart of 85 percent of all flakes.” Apparently, water needs a seed or nucleus to form around, or it won’t turn into snow at the kinds of temperatures we get here, even if there is a Polar Vortex.

Germs! We usually think of germs as pathogens—and that is the kind of germ that lies at the heart of so many of our snowflakes—but germs are also “something that initiates development or serves as an origin.” The “germ of an idea” is what lies at the heart of every story. Writers are constantly collecting ideas, germs of ideas, to write about.

As a teacher, I taught the “Writer’s Process” to students:

  • Gather Ideas for Writing
  • Choose a Seed Idea to Write About
  • Draft
  • Revise
  • Edit
  • Publish
  • Celebrate (you’ve got to celebrate!)

Writers should constantly be gathering ideas for writing—ideas, characters, quotes, “noticings”—in a Writer’s Notebook. These become the germs that develop into writing. The rest of the process is germinating those ideas into stories and poems and essays. Without the germs—the seeds—there is nothing to germinate!

One of my germs grew into a poem about this. You can decide if it “germinated” or not!

Writer

I am a collector.

A collector of words,
Of thoughts,
Dreams,
Hopes.

A collector of sights,
Of sounds,
Smells,
Tastes.

I collect feelings,
Memories,
Emotions,
In lovely little
Lined boxes.

Like this one
With the color of your eyes,
The smell of your hair,
And the salty taste of your neck.

Or, this box,
High on the shelf.
I take it down
And hug it to my chest.
Inside, the first time I saw you,
Our first date,
Our wedding.

I collect them all,
Waiting to weave them together
In a tapestry,
Our story.