Archive for the ‘Spiritual Growth’ Category

Find other posts at Writer on a Horse

Pat is gathering our monthly Spiritual Thursday posts around the theme of stepping out of your comfort zone.  For years I have taught young writers’ camps in the summer. But this year I was inspired by Katherine Bomer’s presentation at NCTE last November to try teaching teachers. Katherine’s teacher/students presented about how personal writing led them to be better teachers of writing. I’ve long held this belief for myself, but decided to get out of my comfort zone and share my understanding with other teachers in my own district.

The Teachers Writing Institute begins on Monday. I’m squirming in my seat. What have I gotten myself into? At first I thought no one would sign up, but on the first day the email went out, eleven teachers signed up. We increased the number of participants from 15 to 20.  Now I have a full class of 20 teachers who want to experience their own writing and learn new strategies for teaching.  So, on Monday, I will face 20 expectant teachers. My palms are sweaty. My heart is racing. Can I really do this? Can I make these teachers feel like writers? Can I give them the confidence they need to go back into the classroom and offer freedom and choice in writing to their students?

With Katherine’s book The Journey is Everything and her generous spirit in email exchanges, along with Voxer friends’ advice, a long list of writing prompts, and a stack of mentors, I am as ready as I’ll ever be. I want to hold onto these thoughts:

  • We are all teachers.  We are in this together.
  • Writing is a brave act.  Sharing writing is even braver.
  • You have everything you need.
  • There is a higher source of power (Yahweh God, Holy Spirit) open to me.
  • Nothing and no one is perfect.
  • Let the work of writing together be the focus.

And it won’t hurt if I know you are praying for me.  Thanks!

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Today, our Spiritual Journey blogging group is writing about Joy, Finding Joy.  I am gathering the posts in the Link button below this post.

I find joy on my morning walks.  Over the years I have joined different gyms.  I’d wake up in the dark, pull on some tights or other fashionable exercise wear, and go to a class or climb on the treadmill or rotate among the machines when Curves was around.  Last year I gave up all memberships and just started walking.  During the school year, I try to get out by 6 AM.  But now that it’s summer, and the days are getting warmer, and I don’t have to be anywhere, I’m out at 7 AM.  Charlie on the leash.  I carry my phone in a pouch that fits over my pants and stays in place with a magnetic grip.  Sometimes I talk to my Voxer pals.  Sometimes I listen to a podcast, and sometimes I run into a neighbor to chat with or who will join me.

These walks have become my Joy.

I find joy in the songs of birds.

I find joy in watching Charlie explore.

I find joy in waving to neighbors.

I find joy in the flowers, the trees, and the bayou beyond.

Another source of joy for me is poetry.  For this poem, I turned to one of my favorite collections, The Woman in this Poem.  Georgia Heard signed my copy with these words, “For the joy of poetry–and life!”



by Jane Kenyon

There’s just no accounting for happiness,
or the way it turns up like a prodigal
who comes back to the dust at your feet
having squandered a fortune far away.

And how can you not forgive?
You make a feast in honor of what
was lost, and take from its place the finest
garment, which you saved for an occasion
you could not imagine, and you weep night and day
to know that you were not abandoned,
that happiness saved its most extreme form

for you alone.

No, happiness is the uncle you never
knew about, who flies a single-engine plane
onto the grassy landing strip, hitchhikes
into town, and inquires at every door
until he finds you asleep midafternoon
as you so often are during the unmerciful

hours of your despair.

It comes to the monk in his cell.
It comes to the woman sweeping the street
with a birch broom, to the child
whose mother has passed out from drink.
It comes to the lover, to the dog chewing
a sock, to the pusher, to the basketmaker,
and to the clerk stacking cans of carrots
in the night.
                     It even comes to the boulder
in the perpetual shade of pine barrens,
to rain falling on the open sea,

to the wineglass, weary of holding wine.

From The Woman in this Poem Selected and Introduced by Georgia Heard

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Find the round up of Spiritual Journey posts at Donna’s site, Mainly Write

Today our spiritual Thursday bloggers are writing about Donna’s one little word, Reach.  This was my word in 2015.  I chose it that year as I was finishing a manuscript that I wanted to publish.  That book is still not a book, but I don’t think it has anything to do with the word Reach.

When I searched my blog for Reach, I found this quote above.  Sometimes wisdom comes to me.  Today I needed to see this again.  I needed to remember that all we can do at any one time is to be present to it.

I switched my classroom Wonder calendar to May and found this quote waiting for me.

Personal Courage Month

Many of us have big things we’d like to do, but we’re too nervous or shy to try them. Try doing one thing this month that will get you closer to the big thing you’d like to do–tell someone about it, ask for help, read a book about it.

I have an idea that I will be sharing with an upper administrator today.  Fingers crossed he gets it, understands my goals, and pushes me forward to meet them.

I have an idea for a poetry book.  I’m reading, researching, experiencing, and playing with words.  It’s about process, practice, practice, and process.

I will revise my works in progress again and again until they are ready for the wider world.  Confidence, patience, persistence.

Reaching is hard work.

Reaching is stretching till it hurts.  Hold.  Then stretch more.

Reaching is shooting for the moon and landing among the stars.  I’m OK with the stars.  I have friends there.


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National Poetry Month 2017

Find the round up of Spiritual Journey posts at Violet’s blog. Click the image.


These flowers appeared under the porch at Solomon House.  Volunteers vining from another plant about 10 feet away on the other side of the sidewalk.  There’s a line in a play my students perform about growing up at The Shadows, “We grow a flower called, ‘ham ‘n eggs.”  This is it.  See the pink ham and the golden egg yolk.  This flower is also a fractal, growing blossoms that look like tiny bouquets.

Today for Spiritual Thursday, we are writing around the theme of new life, spring, and Easter. I’ve been thinking about how we carry the spirits of our ancestors with us.  Like it or not, their lives influence ours.  We can see this as a gift or a curse.  We must be gentle with these spirits.


Pink lantana
sneaks under the porch
snakes through the dark earth
carrying the burden of a mother’s pain.

This fractal flower
springs forth surprising
the toes of the hungry and the poor,
lighting a path like grandmother’s Easter bonnet.

Don’t pick her blossoms.
They will sprinkle like confetti.
Just hold your gaze on her sunshine
remembering from whence she came.

–Margaret Simon


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Finding spiritual journey fellows on the internet is such a wonderful gift. We are gathering each month on the first Thursday to blog together. Today, you may link up and read more posts at Leigh Anne Eck’s site Turn.

The theme of our posts today is Leigh Anne’s One Little Word, Rise. I love this word. Simple, one syllable, and yet full of hope and love and light. I immediately think of a spiritual I would sing with kids “Rise and Shine and Give God the Glory, Glory.”

This week I presented my students with the Maya Angelou poem, “Still I Rise.” What did they think of this old African American woman laughing out loud on the video and saying she dances like she has diamonds on her thighs? When you place her words in the context of her life and the Civil RIghts Movement, they resonate.
“You may trod me in the very dirt.
But still, like dust, I rise.”

Maya Angelou speaks of the human spirit, the spirit that is guided by and held in the hands of God. I wonder if I have that kind of spirit. Preparing to teach about another Civil Rights hero, Fannie Lou Hammer, I read poem after poem about her being trod in the dirt, over and over, and still she rose. She didn’t give up. I am humbled by her resilience.


Looking to these heroes who turned against adversity and prejudice and pain, and led their friends to Rise, I feel an obligation, a resolve to be strong and resilient. I cannot do that without being willing to be humble and kind and to turn my heart to the love of God.


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Once we know the manger we recognize everyone as someone to love. Margaret Simon #haikuforhealing

Once we know the manger
we recognize everyone
as someone to love.
Margaret Simon

Today’s haiku is inspired by Bishop Jake Owensby’s post, Imagining Jesus, in which he writes: “The challenge for us, now that we have been to the manger, is to live the truth we’ve found there. Everyone we meet is the person God loves. In all their breathtaking otherness and bewildering uniqueness.”

My wish for you and for this nation on this Christmas Day is to remember every day that everyone you meet is a child of God who deserves respect and dignity and love. Last night as I sang in the loft above the crowded sanctuary, I prayed that my voice would be blessed. “May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be always with you, my Lord and My God.” Place the gift of Christmas in your heart. Find love. Express love. Be love. Every day. To every one.

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Link ups at Irene Latham's site, Live your Poem

Link ups at Irene Latham’s site, Live your Poem

Being a part of an online blogging community keeps me writing and thinking and reflecting.  Irene Latham asked our Spiritual Journey Thursday group to write a reflection about our One Little Words for 2016.  So here I am… Present.

My OLW for 2016 was Presence.  This word mantra has helped me in many ways this year.  When I’ve been worried, I turned to presence.  When I’ve been celebrating, I turned to presence.  Being with whatever is happening in the moment is a valuable skill, and I am so glad I chose presence this year.  The year I spent two weeks in Africa.  The year my middle daughter got married.  These experiences still live in my heart because I was fully present to them.

But everyday, I have to call myself back to presence.  I take walks alone, valuing time to see things in my world, to focus on the gift of nature.  Sometimes while walking I’ll take out my phone to send a message to someone who has come to mind, or to type a poem or an idea for one, or to take a picture to capture a moment.

Practicing presence fits my personality, too.  I am one of those people who is always on the look out for ways to help others.  While some may think this is a positive trait, it can also lead to burn-out and low self-esteem.  By being present, I take care of myself.  And by taking care of myself, I am better equipped to help others.

I haven’t started thinking about my word for 2017.  I’m not ready to let this one go.  I don’t have to, of course.  I can build on Presence along with Reach of 2015 and Open of 2014.  I enjoy words and playing with words, so this tradition of finding one little word to guide my year is fun and inspiring.  I think deeply about what I really want and the possibilities that are open to me.

Thanks, Irene, for calling me to be reflective about my one little word.


Haiku-a-day #15

Be present today
open to whatever door
Turn the knob, enter

–Margaret Simon

From Richard Rohr's Center for Action and Contemplation

From Richard Rohr’s Center for Action and Contemplation

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