Wearisome wandering and strange wonders

(Afterthought: Stream of consciousness blogging today – you’ve been warned)

Because I am broken I can see the cracks in a world created so carefully.

Cracks in the earth, cracks in relationships, cracks in our goals, understandings and beliefs; foundations. Cracks that become crags; that become seemingly unbridgeable and insatiably discouraging canyons.  Canyons are capable of making us broken people wonder whether the land on the other side even exists – did we dream the land across the divide?  Was the beauty an illusion in the desert?  Drowning in the dust of this life, we often forget the creation we are meant to be.  We forget our capabilities, we forgo our ambition and succumb to the failure, falling into the cracks.

And then there is this.

A friend posted this to me a couple of weeks ago and I can’t get it out of my mind:

Ecclesiastics 1:8-10 (NIV)

All things are wearisome,
    more than one can say.
The eye never has enough of seeing,
    nor the ear its fill of hearing.
What has been will be again,
    what has been done will be done again;
    there is nothing new under the sun.
10 Is there anything of which one can say,
    “Look! This is something new”?
It was here already, long ago;
    it was here before our time.

All things are more wearisome than I can say…

I have been in classrooms this quarter in which groups of teachers attempt to solve the problems of our students by attempting to figure out how to motivate them.  How to help them recognize and reach their goals.  Wearisome.  Attempting to come up with something new, we search through tomes of previously published works by psychologists, educators and parents.  We compare our own students to studies. We  study and compare notes about how we have attempted to motivate the students.

Motivation is more than the reasons behind choosing to do something.  Motivation involves the ability to take risks and fail.  To fail and recognize that it is not the end of the world.  Motivation means being flexible. Motivation takes inspiration – and we are back full circle to my focus a little over a year ago where I focused on finding my own inspiration.  At that time, I came up with this:

The drawing in of breath.

I don’t know if that definition has the same tone in your reading as it does in mine, so I will attempt to express the way I interpret it.  The drawing in of breath is literally what makes us continue to live – to breathe is to live and to willingly step into the next moment with the presence of mind (or subconscious realization) that that drawing in of breath will need to occur over and over again at infinitum in order to guarantee that life continues. (http://wp.me/p2D1vn-46)

Breathing – stepping forward willingly and recognizing the need for constantly doing the same thing over and over again – Nothing new under the sun

How do I pass on this idea?  How do I choose to do it myself?… recognizing that each day may bring the same conversation, the same attempt to inspire, the same need to instill motivation….

Oh my goodness.  When realizations hit, they hit hard and humble.

Friends:  I complain a lot.  It’s easy and I can blame it on my humanity or my socio-cultural background or the cultural and economic expectations that society places upon me.  I can blame it on false expectations of what it means to be community.

Yikes.  Community.  That is where I’m being hit hard right now.

Choices and friendship and willful release.

I live and function within a community of people which are constantly coming and going. University towns are not meant for continuous habitation.  People come to school, or come to research -and then move on.  Likewise, many in my community are in some way or another attached to the Air Force base nearby.  Also a community of people not meant to stay long.  I complain about this constantly.

I complain because it seems, when you do plant roots and make a home in such a place, everyone is always leaving and we are left to start again at the beginning.  – wearisome

and a reminder:

“The eye never has enough of seeing,
    nor the ear its fill of hearing.
What has been will be again,
 what has been done will be done again;”

Never enough breath – never enough beginnings, endings, meetings, parting.  Perhaps, a complaint that can turn into a thankful moment in which I get to recognize the constant flow of inspiration placed at my fingertips.  Hammering out the habits of complaint.  hammering out the cynicism.

How can I hope to inspire when I am stuck in my own canyons, willfully denying the paths to bride the divide?  I still do not know how to motivate or inspire, but I suppose my ability to teach these traits might be caught up in my own ability to own and practice them.

Hammering out the feeling that i’m doomed to failure before I begin.

Building a bridge across those canyons.

Recognizing the beauty within the broken.  The light streaming through the cracks.

Lost in a circle

Sometimes I feel so lost.  Can a person be lost though, when walking in circles?  Different tasks, same reactions.

Write this essay

– what if it’s not good enough?

Sing this song

– I’ll sing quietly so other voices can be heard above me.

Tell your story

– I’d rather hear yours.

Explain why you’re good at something

– I’d rather tell you the ways that I recognize I need to get better.

I’m running in circles and seeing the same trees, all the while trying to reach some destination and I’m not sure what it actually looks like.

I need to go running.

Heart pumping, body moving. . . focus. . .

Where would it get me though?  2 hours of focus and then back to the path – carved deep now by my circles.

Circles of self-doubt; circles questioning direction, questioning decisions, guilt and worry.

Deep footprints on well worn soil – and I know the path by heart.

This path that is so well walked..

..run

…crawled upon

that I begin to find comfort in the mud caked under my fingernails as I try to drag myself up the now canyon walls.

It is so easy to accept my inabilities – to dwell on what I know I am not good at or capable of.

More difficult to look at the things I’ve accomplished and be proud –

and feel that I could possibly be capable of more –

that I can be confident in myself and ultimately succeed.

I questions constantly whether this is really a bad thing – if I’m able to recognize what needs to change, will I not be better prepared to change it?

The funny things about this current state of circle walking is that I have had so much practice thinking about my thoughts, thinking about the different directions that these thoughts lead, that I’m not longer scared or worried or stressed.

I feel like I should be and recognize that feeling as a reaction that would be completely unhelpful to my productivity.

Finishing the teaching credential assessment (PACT), I’m worried that it’s not good enough and simultaneously accepting that I really think it’s the best that I can do and that if that’s not good enough, maybe it’s not what I’m supposed to do.

Peace does not surround this thought, it’s just there – weighing down my ability to try harder.  That thought feels more like resignation – more like a voice telling me that once again I’ve chosen the wrong path, and I refuse to accept it.

More for my own processing than your readership, I write to convince myself that I truly do love teaching.  Self-confidence is not my forte because I have constantly pushed against confidence in favor of humility and while I can reason myself into seeing that the two can exist together, it’s harder to put that reason into action.

I love lesson planning and thinking of all of the fun activities that could trick my students into seeking any kind of knowledge.  I just have a hard time conforming to the idea that students need to know certain content – I want them to have realistic ideas of what life is like and to be able to take those ideas and apply them to how they will function as adults.  Responsible for their own paths.  I constantly want to counteract what society tells them is acceptable and expected – I want them to question authority and rules and at the same time I recognize that by doing this, I am setting them up for feeling like they’ve failed.  They haven’t failed!  They just don’t know how to find a success that speaks to their own humanity rather than the expectations of what they perceive the world around them holds…

And yet, here I am, still walking in circles, talking myself in and out of self acceptance. Still unable to convince myself that societies expectations do not fully matter….maybe another round will reveal a varying path.  One which can be used to lead.

Time will tell.

Imposition

Begin with a definition.

imposition (noun): an unfair or unwanted burden or demand.

My alarm was set later than normal yesterday.  I don’t know why, but I felt that I would need twenty – three  minutes more sleep when I groggily checked the time at some dark hour of the night when a child or a cat had made some noise that interrupted my sleep.  So, the odd time of 6:23 chimed and my alarm read: high school.  I put the phone alarm down and rubbed my itchy forehead.

Oh.  Ashes.

cross

Waking up with ashes on my forehead happens voluntarily once a year – the day after Ash Wednesday, and I always struggle with the fact that I will be washing them off as I begin my day.  So I laid there and  intentionally reminded myself of the evening before – thinking about the words and the songs and the idea of ashes being an imposition.

How can something I voluntarily choose to do be called an imposition?

Why choose an unwanted burden?

 There is something beautiful about a physical reminder that we are people loved by a God who came and lived our very existence.  Tempted by the wonders of this beautifully broken world.  One who refused those temptations, but died a criminal’s death so that our giving into those temptations could be forgiven.

He chose the imposition of death, we choose the imposition ashes.

Reminders are important.

I nearly made it through the Ash Wednesday service without bawling, but the music got me.  There is something about a song/Psalm that speaks in the first person about a people so broken and so loved that speaks out of my mouth and directly into my heart.

I rewrite the lyrics today, tears again, just to remember:

Psalm 126

chorus

Although we are weeping

Lord, help us keep sowing

The seeds of Your Kingdom

For the day You will reap them

Your sheaves we will carry

Lord, please do not tarry

All those who are weeping will go out with songs of joy…..

Imposing Ashes and denying  temptation for 40 days.

Verbal, tactile, and visceral reminders of our own brokenness and of the Grace offered to mend it..

Happy Friday, Mindful Lent.

DayDreaming

Softly floating – hovering – looking down

Distracted, disconnected, unfocused.

The air roaring through the vents carries me swiftly to the river.

 

Laying on the granite rocks –

– warmed by the sun

Toes in the frigid water

moving swiftly over the rocks.

A leaf on the surface traveled far –

The treeless riverbanks tell me.

 

The sun beats down

Reverberating

Heat – a drastic dichotomy against the frozen water.

Snow run off;

A snow long forgotten.

 

I blink in the brightness and refocus

On my desk.

Cool, sterile room.

Slow words

Slower focus.

The sun on my face.

 

Memories are forever

January has been hard.  Overwhelming happiness quickly dissolved into grief and sadness and the pace of life right now just keeps pushing us all forward into the next things.  There has not been a whole lot of time to process the sadness, nor much time to dwell in the happiness, and so at least for me both of these come in waves that overtake silent moments in which I usually dissolve into tears that recognize either end of the emotional gamut.

Today though, just a poem.  A poem to dwell in happiness and memories that I never want to forget.

Happy Birthday

Toes in the sand

Wind on our faces, smiling out

At the waves breaking crisply.

Cartwheels.

Sunbathing.

Damming small, shallow streams that only

Grow wider as we added more

Driftwood.

 

Driftwood and Seagulls.

Barnacles, anemones, starfish and clams.

Always finding a hole.

Knee-high rubber boots and rain jackets

Digging until…

The tide came in.

 

Watching –

Through the clear container

In the garage, as the clams spent the next day spitting out all of that –

Sand.

 

Baby oil sunscreen.

Blueberries for pancakes.

Lemon trees gone wild.

Oreos and Rummy,

Kahlua and coffee,

Marshmellows in my Hot Chocolate

So many rounds of Rummy.

 

Strappy shoes and bikinis,

Shopping just to try on all the clothes.

French twists and bobby pins

Lipstick and curlers

Night cream and dangley earrings,

“I bet I can get ready first!”

 

Skorts and Jumpers

Skip-it’s

Hula-hoops while singing “Mony, Mony”

“Twist and Shout”.

 

Foggy?

Drive up the river to find that

Sunshine.

Life-jackets and house boats

Tie them up.

 

Blackberry picking until

Our arms were purple.

Jam and cobbler.

Pepsi and Sunflower Seeds.

and

I love you forever.

Hanging in the Balance

Tilting my head to one side as I walked across the overfull parking lot – weighed down by laptop, books, papers to grade, cell phone and all the other amenities which I pack around – parasites necessary for my current state of being.

I see what’s left of the sparse Fall colors here in northern California.  The colors that, with one windy evening, have fallen and have already begun to dry, fading into one brittle, monotone layer which will with the next wind, be forgotten.  The remnants of gold and red have already faded to rouge and mustard.  I almost stop to take a picture, but realize how many things I’d need to set down and then need to re-sling over my shoulder, instead I  continue walking….

Last night at church there was talk of futures planned not by us but held firm – directed, protected, by God.  Talk of business and bustling – busy-ness which keeps us from balance.  I sat quietly, knitting, thinking.

Busy I know.  balance

I have known for a long time:  full days, sometimes productive, sometimes full of hoops I know need to be jumped through in order to get to the next day – the future – trying to fulfill all of the plans – mine, family’s….God’s? Mine.   I joked with a friend after church about the balance of work, school and family and the need to find balance.  I said I was looking forward to balance – which requires only 2 of those things – laughing that I didn’t see how a balance could support three things without swaying to one side or the other.

 He immediately stood on one leg – hands to the side, one leg back – and gracefully corrected my idea of balance.

I do not remember which passage from Thessalonians we read, I do not remember precisely how the stories aligned.  What I remember is sitting, attempting to remember balance, catching words such as “breathing in the breath of God” and faintly remembering the inspiration I focused so steadily on not so very long ago.

Reminding myself that work, school, family, church, gardening, knitting, reading, all of those parts of this living.  Living on the edge of crazy, pushing myself to do the best and ‘succeed’ are goals measured only by me.  If instead I live into each moment without worry about whatever effect that moment will play in the future, I will find the balance.  Thankful for the moment, the lesson learned, the time spent.  Breathing in each breath and being thankful rather than wondering how to get to the next one, or how to get to next week, or year.

Planning, having goals, all of this is important,  but letting these plans and goals – the focus on the future – be more important than right now never allows  thankfulness or grace an entrance.  So I sit here tonight.  Probably avoiding things I should be finishing in order to be successful two days from now, attempting to focus instead on how lovely it is to be quiet.  To sit with a cup of coffee and read the blogs I’ve been bookmarking for a future day when I’m not so busy.  When busy is just a construct of my own doing, I guess I get to decide when to take time to notice the moments right?

There’s no guarantee that I will ever put down the baggage of my day in order to capture the beautiful fallen leaves, but maybe I will –

stop.

and breathe.

– and take a few more moments to notice them – to be thankful for the turning of seasons – for signs of life that push through the pavement of a crowded parking lot – defying the constant foot traffic, growing upward toward a sky which is so blue.

Stop and watch the trees swaying gracefully in the invisible wind, breathing in grace, dancing to music unheard.  Watch the clouds move smoothly across the vast blue sky and wonder where they formed, when they’ll fall, what path they’ll take to begin again their cycle toward the heavens. And breathe Grace in a moment .

Shift the baggage of the day

– re-balance –

and continue to the next moment, unencumbered by the future.

Petrichor

Every day running

Sitting, learning, reflecting.

Cyclical schedule,

Ready-made days.

 

Today I walk the field

Avoid the track.

Slow down

Smell the earth

Plant seeds and wait for new life.

 

Waiting

I know well

How to wait each year

Arduously long, and fleeting.

 

Sweet perfume

A rain nearly forgotten

A lifetime ago

A year.

 

Soil turned

Young life that will produce

Produce

Another cycle.

 

Still photographs in a minds-eye

As I take my place again

Starter pistol

Crack

The race begins again.