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Dear Spiritual Thursday Friends,

We are gathering again for the first Thursday of each month. This is an open invitation to any blogger who would like to join us. We post on the first Thursday of the month. Each month is hosted by a different blogger. We do not adhere to any specific religious affiliation. We are here to express our thoughts about how our spiritual lives are going. Let me know in the comments or by email if you’d like to be on the list of participants.

Blessings,
Margaret

I’ve been choosing a One Little Word to guide my year for many years now. I have a collection of MudLove bracelets that express my different words. I’ve even begun a practice of gifting little words to some of my friends. It’s probably against the OLW policy to assign someone a word, but the friends who receive one seem to like the idea. At an NCTE conference sometime around 2014, I was given a MudLove bracelet. I love wearing my word.

Enough, 2022

My word came to me while I was reading Jess Keating’s Epic Email.

Everything you need is inside you. The tough stuff alchemizes to create the good stuff. Your story is enough. What you value is enough. Your desire is enough.

Jess Keating, Epic Email
I am Enough!

Today I listened to Glennon Doyle’s podcast We Can Do Hard Things. She said that January branding has got it all wrong with New year, New you. “It suggests we hate ourselves. It’s insulting.”

At our core, in our soul, we are who we are. And to quote Popeye, “I yam what I yam.” Who I am is enough. I do not need to change myself. Of course, I could exercise more or cook more often or get more involved in social activism. But who I am at 60 is the same me as I was at 50, 40, 30, 20, 10… Embracing my inner self gives me safety to open up for new experiences that enrich me. And if a challenge comes along, I am ready. I am enough.

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This week it’s snowing in the Blue Ridge Mountains, but last week the weather was mild. Cool enough to set a fire outside in the fire pit, yet warm enough to run and play without a jacket on. Our family vacation the week after Christmas was as good as it gets. I wrote about it here for Slice of Life.

Today’s photo was one I took in the late afternoon as the sun was setting over the hills beyond our mountain house. This photo captures the peaceful magic of time to do nothing much. As the weather has turned to winter storms and cold temperatures this week, I hope this photo brings a peaceful moment of warmth. Write with me. Leave your small poem in the comments and come back to respond to other writers. Happy new year of writing.

Pleasant perch on Blue Ridge Mountains

Muse in the magic
of a smoking fire
freeing your soul
to rest
on God’s roof.

Margaret Simon, draft

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Round up of Spiritual Journey posts
can be found at Christine Margocs’ site,
Horizon 51

For our Advent time-of-waiting spiritual journey posts this month, Chris chose the topic of “waiting…with a side of hope.”

Waiting is not easy. It means patience, looking inward… finding peace.

My calendar suggests quite the opposite.

It says go here, do this, buy that.

Hurry up!

So I look to the stars and wonder

What are they waiting for?

The light we see is how old? days? months? years?

Yet it comes anyway.

Christmas will come anyway.

Why worry?

When his mother asked what he wanted Santa to bring him,

he pointed to the Christmas tree

and said, “That funny clown up there!”

Ah, to see waiting through the eyes of a toddler

dancing through each day in wonder.

Let’s change our mantra from “I can’t wait”

to “I Can Wait!”

Waiting brings light and hope and love

wrapped in a timeless gift.

Christmas present by Leo, age 2 yrs 11 months

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Spiritual Journey First Thursday Posts are being gathered today by Denise Krebs at Dare to Care.

Gratitude should be a daily practice, and I believe, for the most part, it is, but the month of November tucked gently between the wildness of Halloween and the frenzy of Christmas gives us an opportunity to find grace and gratitude.

On Monday, I decided to start a monthlong project of gratitude poems with my students. When they walk in and open their notebooks, I ask, “What are you grateful for today? What is making you happy right now?” We have a quick discussion and then write small poems. I’ve printed leaves on colored paper. We write our #gratitude on a leaf, cut it out, and add it to the “Poet-Tree” on the classroom door.

Gratitude Poet Tree

I’m posting my poems on social media with #gratitude. I’m drawn to the small poem form hay(na)ku that Denise Krebs introduced me to. Here are the #haynaku that I’ve posted so far this month.

November 1

Blue
–your eyes
Saying Love Mamere

November 2

View-Master
Dino book–
Children were here!

November 3

Missing
–your smile
Masks hide happiness.

by Katie, 6th grade
Gratitude Septercet by Margaret Simon

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Ramona is gathering Spiritual Thursday posts at Pleasures from the Page

For today’s Spiritual Thursday post, Ramona suggested we listen to a podcast by Emily Freeman entitled The Next Right Thing. It’s a new-to-me podcast that I am now following. I listened this morning while walking and wrote my response by speaking into the Notes app on my phone.

Henri Nouwen writes in his book Here and Now, “We are inclined to think that when we are sad, we
cannot be glad. But in the life of a God-centered person, sorrow and joy can exist together. That isn’t easy to understand. But when we think about some of our deepest life experiences, such as being present at the birth of a child or the death of a friend, great sorrow and great joy are often seen to be parts of the same experience.”

Emily Freeman, The Next Right Thing Podcast

I am Here

My daughter gave me an Apple Watch.

It watches my every move and occasionally will vibrate my arm

and tell me something like you need to be moving

or you’ve reached your movement goal

or stand up now.

We have found devices in this modern world that help us to be present.

Present with our steps, each one counted and charted on an app on our phones

which we carry with us everywhere,

everywhere to be present with a friend on Instagram or Facebook.

Daily when I walk, I use an app called Voxer to chat with a friend across the globe in another place.

She calls this her daily podcast with me. Funny and true.

And I’m grateful for the technology that allows me to be present with a friend far away.

But sometimes all I need is to just be here–

Here stepping on fall leaves, listening to them crinkling,

listening to the sounds of birds

in the trees losing the leaves.

I’m just here with myself

And God.

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Spiritual Journey First Thursday posts are being gathered by Karen.

Spiritual journeys, like life, have their ups and downs. I think I’ve been in a low for a while now, without realizing it. Nothing like a major disaster to come along as a wake up call. God whizzed by and said, “Hey, look what the force of nature can do. Blow off roofs. Shut down power systems. Upend trees. Disrupt our lives. But I’m still here if you need me.”

Karen Eastlund asked us to write about virtue. She sent us a long list of virtues. I have been thinking a lot about Grace. Grace kept us safe from the storm. Grace allows us to be a safe haven for our family. Grace is the virtue that gives freely without asking for anything in return.

My family is filling up my house. It’s usually just me and my husband, dog Charlie, and cats Fancy, Mimi, and Buzz. Today my home includes 4 more adults, 1 toddler, 3 dogs and a cat. My school secretary commented, “Simon Family Zoo.” But I prefer another friend’s comment. He said, “Like Christmas!”

In Grace and with Gratitude, I open my heart and my home to the ones I love. We will get through this and likely become better people.

God, grant me the grace to be the calm in the storm, love in times of trouble, and faith when things look bleak.

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Spiritual Journey First Thursday is being gathered today by Linda Mitchell.

Linda Mitchell is gathering Spiritual Journey First Thursday posts. Her topic suggestion is Respect. I wasn’t going to write. In fact, I emailed Linda and apologized, “I’ve got nothing.” However, in the spirit of respect for this community of writers and because I’m awake on the last day of my summer break, I am writing.

Respect is born out of Love. The two are intertwined like the threads on the knitting needles. God calls us to Love.

And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.

1 John 4:16

This morning I read a beautiful poem by David Whyte, The True Love.

so that when

we finally step out of the boat

toward them, we find

everything holds

us, and everything confirms

our courage, and if you wanted

to drown you could,

but you don’t

because finally

after all this struggle

and all these years

you simply don’t want to

any more

you’ve simply had enough

of drowning

and you want to live and you

want to love and you will

walk across any territory

and any darkness

however fluid and however

dangerous to take the

one hand you know

belongs in yours.

David Whyte, Brain Pickings

Step out of the boat and give your hand to God. Find true love with God. Trust the safety you feel. Hold your hand out to others in respectful response.

Miramar Beach, Florida (photo by Margaret Simon)

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graphic by Carol Varsalona
who is hosting the gathering of Spiritual Journey posts today.

This morning I turned the calendar to July and wondered where my summer is going. Carol invited us to write about Nurturing our Summer Souls for Spiritual Journey first Thursday. I thought I would wake up early and write, but the thing about summer is expectations fall into the sun. I woke up tired. The only thing I can figure is the water aerobics class last night has affected me in more ways than I thought possible. I have welcomed these classes, the time with friends, the cool of the water, and the invigorating feeling of exercise. But this old body is finding muscles that have been dormant. It’s a good thing, right? Remind me.

My summer soul is being nurtured by the National Writing Project’s #WriteAcrossAmerica virtual writing marathon. I’ve participated in three different stops. Each Tuesday a different project site takes on the marathon. This week I went to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, a place foreign to me. The story map is full of places to explore and writing prompts to contemplate. I stopped at the Indian Village Site and followed a link to Margaret Noodin’s Ted Talk.

I’ve been fascinated by Margaret Noodin’s work since listening to Poetry Unbound from On Being. Margaret not only shares my name, but she also sings. She sings her poems in Anishinaabemowin and English. Being Episcopalian, I love a good chant and that is what Margaret Noodin delivers.

As I listened I wrote. This poem follows her words and weaves in my own words as if we became a confluence of thoughts, two rivers meeting and flowing together for a time.

Minowakiing: The Good Land

Languages
teach us of place. In this Good Land,
we can keep ourselves alive,
hearts beating wild, transforming
the world
in a net, networking, working in
interconnection.

I see lessons in light
see a word East
move into melting
transitioning time to place
word to word.

Listen to sounds singing of fish
bobbing in the water.
Let’s listen to each other.
Remember we are in a good place.

Remember the bird knows,
the grass knows,
the old oak knows

We inherit the language of our ancestors,
reminded how to find the road, the map
to our own lives.
Here. Together.

Margaret Simon, with Margaret Noodin

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Ruth is gathering Spiritual Journey posts at There is no such thing as a God-forsaken town. We are checking in on our One Little Word.

For 2021, I chose Inspire as my guiding One Little Word. How’s it going? Truth be told, I’m tired. This is our last day of school. This has been a weird year. Long in so many ways. Yet here we are again. Summer sun hangs high in the sky. Temperatures rise, and I crave the scent of chlorine and sunscreen.

Last week on a day when I was cleaning up and wondering how it is that I keep so much stuff from year to year, my colleague Erica came into my room. She teaches 4th grade next door to me, and I teach her daughter in gifted. She said, “I was channeling my best Margaret Simon. Look what we did! Black-out poetry!” She was so excited to show me the results.

As I think about inspire, I count the ways in which others inspire me; Artists, poets, musicians, all fill me with the desire to create. I hadn’t thought about how I inspire others. The 4th grade black-out poems made my heart swell. Erica knew it would.

Inspire is a communication of the heart,
a creative connection,
a gift to the world.

beautiful spring day
no idea
what was in store for me
too perfect
hug
love
share
each other
as one
Believe me.

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Spiritual Journey First Thursday is being gathered today by Carol Varsalona at Beyond Literacy Link.

Carol is gathering Spiritual Journey posts today around the topic Blossoms of Joy. When I first typed it, I wrote “Blossoming Joy,” which slightly changes the blossoms into action. I have come to believe that we are all in the process of blossoming. We never arrive because life is hard and good and disappointing and joyful all wrapped up on any given day.

I’ve been listening to Untamed by Glennon Doyle. It’s a book full of quotable quotes. This is one that spoke to me.

“I am here to keep becoming truer, more beautiful versions of myself again and again forever. To be alive is to be in a perpetual state of revolution. Whether I like it or not, pain is the fuel of revolution. Everything I need to become the woman I’m meant to be next is inside my feelings of now. Life is alchemy, and emotions are the fire that turns me to gold. I will continue to become only if I resist extinguishing myself a million times a day. If I can sit in the fire of my own feelings, I will keep becoming.”

Glennon Doyle, Untamed

My spiritual journey is the alchemy that keeps me blossoming. I’m in a constant revolution with my inner and outer selves. Outside I want to show I’ve got everything under control. No rocky roads here. Smooth sailing. I know what I am doing, and I am doing it.

Practically every day, someone in the halls will comment about my appearance. Whether it’s the cute Dr. Seuss “Teacher, I am!” mask or the shoes I’m wearing, someone will say something. I know. I know. This is how women interact. I find myself doing it every day.

In fact, one day a little kindergarten girl was rushing in the hallway. She said, “I have to go to the bathroom,” and rushed by me. Then I heard from her little sweet voice, “But I love your hair!”

Perhaps she genuinely had noticed and liked my hair. But it struck me that even our young girls are trained to greet another girl with a compliment about her looks.

I’m not saying this practice is one I would change so much as notice. Our society trains girls at a very young age that how you look matters. Is this healthy?

Lucille Clifton is one of my favorite poets. Years ago I had the privilege of hearing her read at the Dodge Poetry Festival. Her poem “roots” was the poem of the month for A Network of Grateful Living. I loved the voice and cadence so much that I wrote beside her. Literally placed the poem on a document and wrote my own beside her. Glennon’s words and my own inner thoughts led me to this poem.

wings

call it fire even,

call it anything.

it’s the desire in us

to fly.

we hold our hands

above our heads

and call them

branches,

and grow on them.

we flutter them and make melodies.

call them stories, wild stories.

we are lost in the cumulonimbus

field of clouds.

call it lightning,

our flames.

call it wings.

it’s the wild in us.

it’s the wild of us.

it is the wild, call it

whatever you want to.

call it blossoming.

Margaret Simon, after Lucille Clifton
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

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