Saturday, March 17, 2018

SOLSC '18 Day Seventeen: 'Tis a great day to be Irish

I have a lot of thoughts swirling in my head regarding Saint Patrick's Day, and can't seem to settle on just one for a worthy piece of pardon today's mish-mosh of ideas.

My surname may not reflect it, but my matrilineal heritage is Irish.  While I was growing up, each March would bring Hallmark cards with clover and leprechauns to our mailbox from my mother's parents, brother, aunts and uncles.  Today, I will send electronic holiday greetings to my family.

I am a lover of potatoes, in all forms...but who isn't?

Seamus, the leprechaun, has once again visited our house.  This time he left 44 gold chocolate coins for my son to find.

I love Celtic lore.  Stories of fairies, leprechauns, and sacred spaces which come alive at certain seasons of the year are fascinating.  I feel the connection with nature, a sense of wonder, the willingness to accept that which cannot be explained, and the presence of the Divine through these tales.

My favorite morning prayer is "The Breastplate of Saint Patrick."  It is long, but I've prayed it so often that I have it memorized.  There are many versions, but this is the one I recite:

I arise today
Through the strength of heaven; 
Light of the sun,
Radiance of the moon,
Splendor of fire,
Speed of lightning,
Swiftness of the wind,
Depth of the sea, 
Stability of the earth,
Firmness of the rock. 

I arise today
Through God's strength to pilot me;
God's might to uphold me, 
God's wisdom to guide me, 
God's eye to look before me, 
God's ear to hear me, 
God's word to speak for me, 
God's hand to guard me, 
God's way to lie before me, 
God's shield to protect me, 
God's hosts to save me 
From snares of the devil, 
From every one who desires me ill, 
Afar or near, 
Alone or in a multitude. 

Christ with me, Christ behind me, Christ before me,
Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me, 
Christ on my right, Christ on my left, 
Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down, 
Christ when I arise,
Christ in the heart of everyone who thinks of me, 
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me, 
Christ in the eye that sees me, 
Christ in the ear that hears me. 

I am always wearing green--my clover and triquetra and owl tattoos cover that tradition.  Twenty-nine years ago today, my husband proposed to me with an emerald ring.  It goes well with my green-painted fingernails.

I'll close this muddled post with a well known Irish blessing:

May the road rise to meet you
May the wind be always at your back
May the sun shine warm upon your face
May the rain fall soft upon your fields
And, until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of His hand.

Happy Saint Patrick's Day!

Friday, March 16, 2018

SOLSC '18 Day Sixteen: Metamorphosis

There have been lilies on the table before.  These were in a beautiful arrangement given to me by my husband for my birthday.  One had already opened wide, displaying freckled pink petals and bright orange stamen.  Someone had given me a tip about cutting off the stamen to avoid pollen stains; so helpful!

What I hadn't noticed before was the gradual coloring of the flower bud. The lilies started with green petals closed up tight, turning pinker by the day until they burst open.

The flowers reminded me of the monarch butterflies I raised two years ago.  I thought they had died when the beautiful green chrysalises started turning black.  What I learned was that they were actually becoming clear, showing off the butterflies about to emerge.

When I was teaching, I was tuned in to changes in my students' behavior.  Subtle shifts gave me clues about their personal and learning lives.  When the changes were hurtful or frustrating, sometimes I could intervene; sometimes, the only help I could give was to acknowledge their difficulties and be with them as they struggled.  It was often enough for them to simply be seen and heard.  Like the lily and the butterfly, I was privileged to watch them blossom and grow.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

SOLSC '18 Day Fifteen: Porch sitting in the morning

It's Spring Break here in central Texas, and I'm taking advantage of being home past dawn to go for walks in the sunshine.  I've had to bundle up a bit; our morning temps, while nothing like the nor'easters New England is experiencing, have been in the forties.  

It finally warmed up enough yesterday to pause on the front porch after my walk.  I hadn't had a chance to meditate yet, and I thought a few moments sitting, just listening, would suffice.

After taking a few deep breaths of the crisp air, I tuned in to the sounds of our neighborhood, and realized it wasn't as quiet as I thought. A feathered symphony was warming up in a cacophony of coos, shrieks, and trills.  Focusing on the source of the sounds, I saw grackles, bluejays, crows, doves, and a mockingbird in the distance.
(You may want to turn up your sound)

At some point, I got hungry, and went inside to make myself a yogurt parfait.  Returning to the porch, the granola crunching seemed an insult to the background birdsong.  I ate quickly, and returned to listening once more.

My vision of a perfect day starts with porch sitting and birdsong, temps just chilly enough to keep the bugs at bay, coffee in hand, no appointments to keep.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

SOLSC '18 Day Fourteen: Cloudwatching

blue skies pushing at little poufed clouds
placed adjacently in rows and columns 
by an unseen hand
like the batting between
the stitched squares of an old quilt
or dough blobs on top of a cobbler
(are we the filling, or is the sky?)

I found out these types of clouds are called stratocumulus, by visiting a resource-filled science education website hosted by the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research Center for Science Education.  

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

SOLSC '18 Day Thirteen: If we remember, we can fly

“When you come to the edge of all of the light you’ve known, and are about to step off into the darkness of the unknown; faith is knowing one of two things will happen. You’ll have something solid to stand on, or you’ll be taught how to fly.”
--Patrick Overton
(Thanks to Fran Haley's post for the inspiration)

It must be a teacher thing, all this planning ahead.  On Friday, we need to know what we'll be doing on Monday.  We plan the week, month, unit, grading period, school year ahead.  As a librarian, I often have to plan a year beyond that to book authors and hold book fairs.  The enormity of the curriculum we're supposed to cover in 175 days with students keeps us constantly cramming every nook and cranny of our work days.  Some of us tend to do that with our personal lives as well, stuffing our days off with tasks, trips, and professional development opportunities.

It's no wonder that the one piece of instruction, the one life skill we often lack, is that of reflection.  We feel like we just don't have time for review.  Too much needs to get done.

The quote above made me stop and reflect on the times I've faced the unknown.  Major life transitions, scary circumstances, big and little opportunities--I've survived them, even thrived sometimes. I bet you have, too.

If we remember, we can feel the solid ground beneath us.  We can push off, and fly.

Monday, March 12, 2018

SOLSC '18 Day Twelve: Acrostic theme

Flying, and 
Looking up
Isn't as easy a theme as I thought it would be.  I need to
Gather more ideas,
Head outside, maybe, and
Turn my head to the sky once more.

The first Monday of Spring Break.  Time change has made it pitch black at this hour when I've become accustomed to hints of dawn.  My home-from-college son sleeps on the sofa; why, I don't know, as his bed is perfectly available.  I'll have to tiptoe through my coffee routine, then return to the study to wonder about what I'll see when daylight arrives and I look up for inspiration.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

SOLSC '18 Day Eleven: Saturday, around 530p

I am sitting on the porch, journal in my lap.
My husband is clattering about in our driveway while he changes the oil in my car.
The fire truck leaves.
There are voices of children playing around the corner, down the street.
A man stops on the sidewalk, his dog waiting on a leash while he checks his phone.
A woman waits in her driveway, with the ambulance still parked out front, doors closed, patient inside.
An unseen airplane roars quietly overhead.
The sun is setting, leaving gray, drawn-out clouds in its wake.
The woman still waits, leaning against her tan minivan.
A motorcycle rumbles past.
A large white pickup truck rounds the corner, slows as it passes the ambulance, but doesn't stop.
Why isn't the ambulance leaving?
What is the woman waiting for?
Our neighbor across the street takes out her trash.
Another airplane flies overhead.
The ambulance leaves, no lights, no sirens blaring.
The woman watches the ambulance go, then walks slowly over to a large pile of brush by her mailbox.
She bends slightly,inspects something, then turns and walks back into her house.
The white pickup truck from before passes our house.
The children are still playing down the street, quieter now.
My husband still clatters in the driveway.
I return to my journal writing, with more questions than answers.