Song of the Open Road


 

Song of the Open Road

 

Afoot and light-hearted I take to the open road,

Health, free, the world before me,

The long brown path before me leading wherever I choose.

 

Henceforth I ask not good-fortune, I myself am good-fortune,

Henceforth I whimper no more, postpone no more, need nothing, Done with indoor complaints, libraries, querulous criticisms,

Strong and content I travel the open road.

 

The earth, that is sufficient,

I do not want the constellations any nearer,

I know they are very well where they are,

I know they suffice for those who belong to them.

 

(Still here I carry my old delicious burdens,

I carry them, men and women, I carry them with me wherever I go,

I swear it is impossible for me to get rid of them,

I am fill’d with them, and I will fill them in return.)

 

You air that serves me with breath to speak!

You objects that call from diffusion my meanings

and give them shape!

You light that wraps me and all things in delicate equable showers!

You light that wraps me and all things in delicate equable showers!

You paths worn in the irregular hollows by the roadsides!

I believe you are latent with unseen existences, you are so dear to me.

 

All seems beautiful to me,

I can repeat over to men and women, You have done such good to me

I can repeat over to men and women,

I will recruit for myself and you as I go,

I will scatter myself among men and women as I go,

I will toss a new gladness and roughness among them,

Whoever denies me it shall not trouble me,

Whoever accepts me he or she shall be blessed and shall bless me.   —excerpted from Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass

 

 

Acrylic painting of courtyard in the French Quarter. Painted and copyrighted 2009

Acrylic painting of courtyard in the French Quarter. Painted and copyrighted 2009 by Barbara Mattio

 

 

 

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The Bahamas. Photograph taken and copyrighted 2013

The Bahamas. Photograph taken and copyrighted 2013

 

 

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Freedom Writers


Freedom writers teacher, Ms. G.  Freedom Writers Teacher and role model (still from the Movie)

A little while ago, I wrote about a teacher in Long Beach, California who was teaching English to kids who had problems of some sort. I had watched the movie and discovered the book. It is available in bookstores and on Kindle and Nook. Ms. G. taught freshman and sophomore English. Well I am now reading the book which is an anthology of the student’s work.  The students were told to write in their journals, and the anthology includes various entries from each of their journals.

To encourage participation without the possibility of humiliation, the journals were all anonymous, but the entries were numbered.

The students wrote about what was happening with their families and their lives, and why their English class in Room 203 with Ms. G became Home; for some of them a second Home, but for many, it was the only Home they had.

Some of them wrote about going home from school and opening the mail and finding an eviction notice.  Others wrote about the fact that there was no food in their house, and no money to buy food.  They wrote about being molested or physical beaten by their mother’s significant other.  They wrote about watching their mothers being beaten, and trying to pull the abuser off their mothers while blood is running off their mother’s head.

Some of them wrote that they lived in very bad sections in Long Beach.  , some children would stay late at school to finish their work, but because they lived in such dangerous areas it wasn’t safe to be out after dark, particularly for the girls.  Ms. G would wait until the children left and even though she did not herself live in Long Beach, she would personally drive each child home to keep them safe.

More than one student wrote about how hard it was to keep their minds positive, to keep hope in their hearts, that they would get good grades, and be able to do everything that they wanted to.  They were surrounded by negativity, and that was what made it so hard.  Everywhere they looked, there was negativity.  This negativity was where the violence and the gang life style, and the intolerance and bigotry that surrounded them came from.

The students learned through Ms. G’s class to respect themselves and to believe in themselves.  They wrote of seeing the whole world differently after reading books, biographies like Zlata’s Diary, that showed them that other people have gone through really difficult times and survived, and got stronger, and turned themselves into better people.

The students wrote about how reading opened up the world to them, and they learned about what was possible, not matter where you lived or what kind of background you had, you could be a person who gave backed to the world.  You could make your life be how you wanted to be, instead of what the world said it had to be.

One student even wrote how her mother ever gave her curfews or rules to follows, so she got the idea that she should give herself curfews, because she didn’t want people to know that her mother was neglecting her.  She felt like she had raised herself, and that it wasn’t easy.

After they had compiled their journals, choosing the pages to submit, Ms. G had the compilation turned into a book.  Ms. G then contacted the Secretary of Education, and told him about her students and their projects, past and present, and about the book created from their project.  He invited them to come in person to bring him the book.  Ms. G and the students earned the money for the trip to Washington, DC, and got to meet the Secretary, who was very impressed with their book.  SOme of the students were blown away just walking up the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.  When they reached the Washington Memorial, they encircled the monument, held hands, sang and said prayers.

Some of the students wrote about that trip, and how they felt so light and full of hope joined together around the Washington Monument.

When they returned to Long Beach, they found out that another student in their school, not a Freedom Writer, had taken a trip to Vegas with friends, and while their brutally raped and murdered a 7 year old girl, while another student watched and did nothing to stop it.  The students wrote about the difficulty of balancing the positive energy from the trip with the horrific news that someone they knew had raped and murdered a little girl.  It was a difficult time but they made it through together, and when the media came to the school looking for headlines about the murder, they went out against school regulations, and sang and talked to the media not about the horror perpetrated by one student, but about what the 150 or so of them had accomplished instead.

The negativity that surrounded these students is what is causing the distrust, distress and violence in the world today, but this wonderful teacher and her courageous students stand as a shining example of what positive energy, hope and understanding can do to make the world a better place.

 

 

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The source of Joy


The Art of Music Brings Joy to the Soul

The art of music

” No one knows what makes the soul wake
up so happy! maybe a dawn breeze has

blown the veil from the face of God.
A thousands new moons appear. Roses

open laughing, Hearts become
perfect rubies like those from Badakshan. The

body turns entirely spirit. Leaves
become branches in this wind. Why is

it now so easy to surrender, even for
those already surrendered? There’s no

answer to any of this. No one knows
the source of joy. A poet breathes

into a reed flute, and the tip of
every hair makes music. Shams sails

down clods of dirt from the roof, and
we take jobs as doorkeepers for him.”

—–Rumi; translated by Coleman Barks
from Dancing With Joy

photo by Barbara Mattio copyrighted 2013

photo by Barbara Mattio
copyrighted 2013

Whirling dervishes of light

Whirling dervishes of light

A Day For Contemplation


Love in the World

Love in the World

Roaming in Thought

“Roaming in thought over the Universe, I saw the little that is Good steadily hastening towards immorality, And the vast all that is call’d Evil I saw hastening to merge itself and become lost and dead.”                                                                                                          –Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass

The Snow Light

In the snow light,
In the swan light,
In the white-on-white light
of a winter storm,
my delight and your delight
Kept each other warm.

The next afternoon
and love gone so soon!-
I met myself alone
In a windless calm,
Silenced at the bone
After the white storm.

What more was to come?
Out from the cocoon,
in the silent room,
pouring our white light,
amaryllis bloom
opened in the night.

The cool petals shone
like some winter moon
or shadow of a swan,
echoing the light
after you were gone
Of our white-on-white.”
—May Sarton

One Life

“A woman walking in a walker on the cliffs
recalls great bodily joys, much pain.
Nothing in her is apt to say
my heart aches, though she read those words
in a battered college text, this morning
as the sun rose. It is all too
mixed, the heart too mixed with laughter
raucousing the grief, her life
too mixed, she shakes her heavy
silvered hair at all the fixed
declarations of baggage. I should be dead and I’m alive
don’t ask me how; I don’t eat like I should
and still I like how the drop of vodka
hits the tongue. I was a worker and a mother,
that means a worker and a worker
but for one you don’t pay union dues
or get a pension; for the other
the men ran the union, we ran the home.
It was terrible and good, we had more than half a life,
I had four lives at least, one out of marriage
when I kicked up all the dust I could
before I know what I was doing.
One life with the girls on the line during the war,
yes, painting our legs and jitterbugging together
one life with a husband, not the worst,
one with your children, none of it just what you’d thought.
We took what we could.
But even this is a life, I’m reading a lot of books
I never read, my daughter brought home from school,
plays where you can almost hear them talking,
Romantic poets, Isaac Babel. A lot of lives
worse and better than what I knew. I’m walking again.
My heart doesn’t ache; sometimes though it rages.”                       —–Adrienne Rich

Gayan

“if you will go forward to find Us, We will come forward to receive you.
Give Us all you have, and We shall give you all We possess.
In man We have designed Our image; in woman We have finished it.
In man We have shown Our nature benign; in woman We have expressed Our art divine.
Make God a reality, and God will make you the truth.
Give all you have, and take all that is given to you.”                                      —excerpted from The Complete Sayings; Hazrat Inayat Khan

The receipe is to add positive energy to the negativity you find.

The recipe is to add positive energy to the negativity you find.

I am love

I am love

Be free, be lovePhoto by Barbara Mattio

Be free, be love
Photo by Barbara Mattio

The End of 2012


I picked this version of Auld Lang Syne for today because it has always been a favorite tune. My favorite lyric is “We drank a toast to innocence, we drank a toast to now.”  We are standing on the line–the line between the old and the new. The old, oft remembered song of innocence and yet one foot starting to move into now.

There are interesting centuries old traditions from the British Isles that we don’t necessarily follow here in America now. They are worth a look, however.

In England, any gifts brought into the house on New Year’s Eve should be welcomed with ceremony, as they will bring good fortune to the house. The cleaning of the house before New Year’s Eve is a way of clearing out unfinished business, of any kind; clearing out the dust and cobwebs of the old year, so you can start out fresh and new.

In Scotland, people burned Juniper branches and carried them throughout the house to clear it of negative energy. This dates back to the time when Juniper branches were burned in the fireplace to ensure the gifts of the New Year.  By 1893, toward evening the thoroughfares become thronged with the youth of the city.

Another tradition — today, championed by “pagans” — is to make a list of what you need and really want. This was also the time to give yourself one of the items on your list; traditionally, you wrapped it up and made a true gift of it to yourself, perhaps accompanied by this Blessing:

Blessing on Giving a Gift

Take, and welcome joy within you;

Showers, flowers, powers,

Hatfuls, capfuls, lapfuls,

Treasures, measures, pleasures,

All be yours to enjoy!

             —-Caitlin Matthews: A Celtic Devotional

Solitary watch

Solitary watch

The celtic traditions energize Gaia, Mother Earth.

The Celtic traditions energize Gaia, Mother Earth.

Do We Heal or do We Listen to the Dollars Spread Around by the Gun Lobby


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As a nation, there is unbearable pain and shock. Babies killed purposely by a troubled child. A troubled child who shot his Mother four times in the head and killed 20 little angels. Each day, while doing normal activities of life, suddenly I remember the tragedy. I have nine grandchildren and I want to throw up.

I think it is important to honor every hero. The teachers and other staff members. Whoever turned the PA system on to warn the other teachers and children. The first responders who will carry such horror within their hearts for the rest of their lives. Each one of these is a hero/heroine. I know that there are heroes we aren’t aware of but the Divinity in the Universe knows of your kind and compassionate behavior.

The violence and anger and hatred that is filling our society will not win. Those of us who are spiritual will not let that happen. We will continue to put light and love into the world. We will pray and meditate for peace and love and acceptance. We will not judge those who are different.

Our country needs to control violent video games and guns. Assault guns and huge magazines are insane. Who needs 30 rounds to kill a deer? What mother needs six guns in the house to feel safe? Therapy is a much better choice, a very necessary choice. Don’t listen to them. Listen to the cries and weeping of the people of Newton, Conn.

If you watch the memorials taking place in Newton, you will see the raw emotion of people whose lives have been touched by violence and guns. I don’t understand how the NRA can say anything. They will though and we need to use all of our emotional strength and every ounce of love in our hearts to turn away from them and think about our country’s loss and pain.

I pray, I honor the people of Newton, the victims, angels all. I pray for the parents who can’t tuck them into bed at night anymore. I pray for the first responders who are having nightmares. I pray for the children who went back to school today. Can you imagine who frightened these babies must have felt this morning? I pray that sanity and love will fill our society and we will put children in the priority they deserve.

Rest In Peace, sweet angels. You will never be forgotten.

Grief is often solitary and always full of pain. May the loving Beloved heal all hearts that are grieving and in pain.

Grief is often solitary and always full of pain. May the loving Beloved heal all hearts that are grieving and in pain.

The rainbow is a promise to Noah and to all of us.

The rainbow is a promise to all of us.