Is It Time For You To Go?
We are so sad, we will miss you so
Boozhoo! Aaniin! Welcome to another version of An Irritable Métis. In this case the publishing schedule is so chingered who even knows what version of the newsletter this one is. It does happen to be one of those editions where things are usually a little more random, a little less … irritable? Perhaps. This one has more than the usual number of photographs too. If you forgot what all this is even about (or what it is in the first place), you may remind yourself here. If you want to help keep a writer out of hard labor, well….
It is about as lush and green here in my part of Montana as it gets. We have had abundant sunshine and now quite a bit of rain, sometimes plenty of both within the same hour. The rivers and creeks are surging with rain and runoff and if we get all the precipitation we are supposed to here in the next twenty-four hours or so I’m certain we will see some flooding. It is a little scary to stand at the banks of my usual haunts and watch entire trees tumble and roll by in the current but it is also exhilarating. So much power! So much life! It is uplifting to be reminded of the gift that is blessed, magnificent water.
I am making a conscious effort, even more than usual, to make notice of these things. To make time to linger in the natural world. To notice the water and how the light moves on it. To notice how glossy and healthy the deer in the pasture are becoming after a rough winter. All of it. Everything. To do otherwise is to fall victim to my own propensity to despair. It doesn’t mean wandering off to such habitats to ignore the world. Rather, it is to be reminded of the world. I’m no good to anyone for anything if I don’t make the effort to remain connected to the things that make facing the horrors of our society worthwhile. So while there will be plenty of opportunity to rant and rave in this space about all that stuff, I just didn’t want to do it today. I want to think about what I love and why and not much else.
“I think the most important thing we need to hear is the voice inside us which connects us to all beings and to the whole web of life. That is needed now to counteract the crippling of the modern self, which is cruelly contained, as in a prison cell, by the hyper-individualism of the last five centuries.”
— Joanna Macy
The tree outside my window is about to burst into flower and I can’t wait because I missed it last year. And I put my bird feeders back up and they have brought me so much joy in a matter of days. I still feel a massive weight on my chest, but at least I have more room to breathe.
Next Stop: Charlo High School
The graduating 8th graders at Dixon School asked me to speak at their graduation. It was an honor that left me a little verklempt. I had a plan for what I was going to say to them but of course I changed it at the last minute after hearing their teachers speak first. Honestly I don’t remember much of what I said even though I meant every single word. First I thanked them for welcoming me so graciously into their circle. Then I talked about all the traits their teachers had pointed out to them, the things that make each of them individually special. I urged them not to forget them, that though we change as we get older, much of who we are remains the same. Especially the things that bring us joy. Why is it so hard to stay connected to joy? The world wants to shove wedges between it and us at every turn. We have to be unrelenting in fighting back against it. Anyway, I truly had moments of joy in the company of these young people and I will miss them.
Words Out West
This is something I’d forgotten about. Last winter I ventured into the studios on the University of Montana campus to read for a podcast called “Words Out West.” Last week it went live. If you have twelve or fifteen minutes to spare, you can CLICK HERE to hear me read a few poems. I remember it as being a good time … and also cold and dark. Wrapping up at 9PM felt like the middle of the night back then.
Poetry as Spiritual Practice
Is it? Can it be? Yes! I did a version of this workshop as an online thing last fall and it went very well so I’m doing it again. Twice, in fact. With some tweaks and rethinkings here and there, of course. I’ve got one planned for the fall, which will also be virtual, but also this one, in person, in the Lamar Valley of Yellowstone National Park, under the auspices of Yellowstone Forever. You can dig the registration HERE. Here’s the lowdown:
The practice of quiet attentiveness and observation is critical to the writing and enjoyment of poetry, and a key element of what makes life living in many, many ways. It is a refuge for me. Perhaps it can be for you too. The course will include reading and discussing and writing poems from three (or more) points of reflection. In particular, impermanence, mindfulness, and joy, and how these ideas relate to a spiritual practice, regardless (or lack) of religion. The instructor's approach is deeply connected to the natural world, and there will be particular emphasis there.
There are still a few spaces left and I hope some of you can make it happen. I did a workshop for these folks in February and loved it. Summer will be spectacular. And warmer, which means more time outside. I can hardly wait.
Friends, this newsletter has been a revelation to me. It is allowing me the freedom to do things I wouldn’t otherwise have been able to do, and I appreciate all of you who have subscribed, paid or not. Even so, people smarter than me about this stuff urge me to do a better job of reminding people that a paid subscription isn’t really very much, whether it’s the $5/month option or the yearly option of $50. So if you like what happens here, well, it’s been kind of a lean month….
This acrostic poem was written for me by Penelope in Mrs. Baumann’s 4th grade class at K. William Harvey Elementary in Ronan. When I walked into the room on my last day there for the year, they all started reading it aloud to me in unison. It was joyous.
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