9/11, by Jennifer Angelina Petro

9/11

By

Jennifer Angelina Petro

 

 

I remember being told school was letting out early—

Parents were coming to pick up their children—

A plane had flown into the World Trade Center

And another was circling somewhere—

We all looked up as we handed the students to their families—

We all felt the shock of a national emergency out of nowhere–

We all moved to our cars with uncertain, fragile steps,

Still looking towards the sky—

And then, by the time we had arrived home, another plane crashed into the Pentagon,

And another in a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, not too far from Pittsburgh—

For the rest of the day we huddled around televisions

And radios—and we asked confused questions—stunned questions—

Allah would never—questions—

 

Two days later when we were permitted to return to school

We pondered deeply what to tell our students—

How could we even come close to eulogizing so many?

How could we explain, with any sense at all, what had happened,

Not to mention why?

 

My fourth graders and I had a frank, tearful, and frightened discussion—

“Why?” they asked.

“They were sick people,” I said.

“They are evil people,” they said.

“Maybe,” I said, “they were sick, that is what I believe.  No well person does things like that.”

“Why did they do it?  What could they gain from doing that?”

“I do not know,” I said, “I do not know.”

“Can we get sick like them?”

“No,” I said, “Never.”

 

We held a long, trembling moment of silence.

We prayed openly for the victims and their families,

We prayed long and hard for the first responders and rescue workers,

We prayed for the dogs still sniffing for survivors,

We prayed it never happens again.

One student asked: “Should we pray for those who did this?”

“I don’t know,” I said, “Do whatever feels right for you.  There is no wrong prayer.

Your question is beautiful.”

And then one student, the smallest kid in the class,

With a voice that quivered like the branch of an autumn tree,

Said with holy conviction:

 

“If I were on those planes, I would have stopped those people—

I would have found a way.”

 

Later, we went out to the big field for recess,

Still looking towards the sky.

 

 

 

 

 

 


My First Father’s Day Being a Mom, by Jennifer Angelina Petro

My First Father’s Day Being a Mom

By

Jennifer Angelina Petro

 rough and tumble

 

My boys say they’re OK.

When I asked them how they felt about it being Father’s Day, they said they were OK.  One asked if he still needed to get me something.  Another said he worked double time on Mother’s Day making cards for two moms and now he appreciates the day off.

I have the best kids ever.

When I think of the times I held them as infants on my chest and sang to them, when I think of pulling them in wagons and pushing them in strollers—all the times carrying them in front packs, the fishing trips, the chasing after ice cream trucks, the making bread and chimichangas, all the times we drew together, all the stories I told at bedtime, all the snake hunts and ootheca searches (praying mantis nests), all the movies (watching Pirates of the Caribbean and the Harry Potter movies over and over and over), all the times playing catch or pitching to them, or the time I took them out of school (along with my students) to take them to see the Parade downtown when the Phillies won the World Series in 08; the teaching them to drive, the times sitting in Barnes and Noble drinking soda and looking at books, the teaching the few guitar chords I know, the screaming at the top of my lungs at Battle of the Bands, the being so proud when they won first place–It wasn’t a lie.  All that daddying.  All that fathering.  It was real.  Always will be.  Nothing will ever change my having been their father.  No matter what anyone says, nothing can ever take those memories away.

My kids can see him in the old photographs with his scruffy goatee, scruffy clothes, silly grin.  They can see hear him in my voice and see him in my hands and face.

But I am Mom Number Two.  Always was.  It’s just none of us knew it until now.

My boys are my treasures.

I love them with all of my heart.

And not just because they support me as a transgender parent, not just because they have taken this whole journey so well, and with such class, love, and good humor; but because they are good and decent people, they are my flesh and blood.  They are my kids.  Nothing will ever change that.  No matter what I look like.  No matter what happens to this body.  Nothing can ever take away twenty years of fathering.

Nothing will ever change that I love them to the moon and back.  And always will.

 

Ben's graduation 2016

A family photo at Ben’s graduation this June, 2016.  He’s the middle one, with Sam to his right, and Daniel to his left–and then Mandy, Mom Number One, and then me, Jennifer, Mom Number Two.

 

 


 

 





Please support my Gender Confirmation Surgery and furthering transition.  Thank you. <3

Questions for You

Questions For You
By
Jennifer Angelina Petro

 

 

My wise friend, Mika and I were talking recently and she observed that if we can allow negative actions, words, and energy from some negative people to drain us, then the implication is that we can allow positive actions, words, and energy of positive people to fill us. I am working on ways to do this, for while I have received TONS and TONS of loving, kind, encouraging, compassionate, and just plain AMAZING support as I have come out as trans, there have been a few people who have said some very cruel things, mean things, reprehensible things, and acted in heartbreaking ways towards me. And my silly mind starts to focus on those few instead of the many, many, MANY who support me. And then I begin to fade, nudge closer to a depression that seems suddenly so far away, and I become afraid, feel guilty, begin to believe I am doing something wrong, when in fact I am not DOING anything. I did not choose to be trans. I am not BECOMING a woman. I AM a woman who is finally conscious of this beautiful and affirming truth and am simply moving closer and closer to fully living and presenting as the person I am. I was born the right gender, wrong body parts. And so my loving supporters, what things do you do to help increase the positive, to draw that loving energy in? This is without a doubt the most intense time of my life—and the most wonder-filled, and beautiful, and yet, it is hard to know there are people who a few days ago were my friends that now literally hate me, and that’s hard. Really hard. And thank Goddess there is YOU. If you’re reading this I believe you’re one of the ones who love my heart. Who looks past what I may wear or what I may call myself, who doesn’t worry about losing anything, but instead is happy they are gaining the best me ever. What suggestions do you have for increasing the positive, for helping a negative-focuser like me to focus on the good–the good that is everywhere. Truly the outpouring of love I am receiving is incredible, and I feel guilty the haters affect me so much, like I am insulting you. I do not mean to, my dear friends. This is all new to me—this complete acceptance of who I am, and I am so happy, really, giddy-magically happy, and need and want your continued support, but I am working with a mind that is trained in negativity and self-hatred. I would be honored to hear how you gather in the positive and release the negative, how you focus on the positive and ignore the negative. You totally rock my friends. I love you. Yours with grace and love, Jennifer

 

 

 


 

 

 

 


Donations go to a fund for my transition.  Thank you for supporting me and this journey.  <3


It All Started With a Box of Darkness

It All Started With a Box of Darkness

by

Joseph Anthony

Last night my dear friend Mindy sent me a quote by Mary Oliver (the best poet in America of the last 100 years, maybe even ever):

 

“Someone I loved once gave me a box full of darkness. It took me years to understand that this too, was a gift.”

 

I read that and as so often happens, words and images started flowing. Sometimes they come like a flood, right away, rushing and gushing–exploding all over the page; other times it’s a more gradual build, images and words finding their way into me slowly, like the dawn. Last night it was the former. It all came out in one brief, satisfying, healing torrent of images, words, and insights.

 
I went with the current on Twitter. Sometimes the constraints of the 140 spaces is a perfect discipline to channel the flow. Other times it’s silly to even try. Last night, the Twitter format worked fine.

 
So thank you Mindy for the initial share; thank you Mary Oliver for writing your wildly luminous poetry; thank you Muse for coming to me in the form of Mindy and Mary; and thank you also, Dear Darkness, of whom I am learning so much from, thank you for being full of light. So many times the depression feels only like utter and complete blackness. I am learning, little by little, the more I simply keep walking, that as soon as the darkness begins to feel overwhelmingly isolative (isolate=from the Latin: to become an island), that exact moment—if I tell someone, find a way to share the hidden pain, the secret suffering, then the darkness blooms into light, into lessons, into invaluable help for myself and others, and I can breathe again. For deep depression is nothing more than the suffocation of the soul.

 
Last night, I didn’t drown in the darkness. I was able to swim. Thank you everyone who helps me to do this. The trinity of diseases: addiction, depression, and isolation, often go hand in hand and can lead to the final darkness. I needn’t go through anything alone again, ever. You don’t either. May my journey through the heart of darkness bear witness to this truth: bring others with you—not dragging them into the chaos, no, bring them with you into your heart, invite them—the safe ones into where the secret hurts live, and the burdens, whatever they are, will become light, the yoke becomes easy (easier). For wherever two or more are gathered–there, in the midst of them, is salvation from the fears of being vulnerable, of showing one’s weaknesses, of being so-called-perfect. There, in this place, this holy space of breath and of embracing–the common experiences, the threads of compassion, identification, love, and eventually ultimately wonder, creativity, and dancing, weave us together into the shared fabric of humanity.

 
Thank you all.

 
The Poems in order of their appearance:

 
Wherever I go, I carry a box of darkness handed down by generations. Inside are echoes of sorrows; and light, beautiful, hidden light.

 
***

 
I speak, the box of darkness closes; I am silent, the box opens. I weep, the box closes, I sleep, the box opens; I sing the box disappears.

 
***

 
I reach inside the box of darkness and find a key. A door appears. I stand, set the box down, and go, go to fall into the shimmering light.

 
***

 
Three words: “Box of darkness,” open secret passageways to the soul. I’m going, take my hand, let’s go find the way back to now.

 
***

 
Where are you? I cry. Here, says the Beloved. Where? I demand. Here, says the Beloved, Where you left me, inside this box of darkness.

 
***

 
One day, I slipped the box of darkness under my bed, not wanting to see it again. When I got home that night, my room had become the box.

 
***

 
I never know when it’s going to come, this rush of images. I only know to slip into it and allow it to river through me to wherever it goes.

 
***

 
Goodnight. I open the box of darkness, slip inside with a blanket. I close the lid. And when I open my eyes to the darkness, I see light.

 

 


 

 



The Golden Bird and the Tree: A Fable of the Soul and the Ego, by Joseph Anthony

The Golden Bird and the Tree

A Fable of the Soul and the Ego

By

Joseph Anthony

 

Once upon a
time a golden bird wandered the heavens in search for a place to sing.  Seeing a tree that stood alone in the valley
of the mountains, she flew in for a closer look.  The tree was young, a mere sapling, and since
it was winter, the sapling was sleeping, so it did not notice when the golden bird
alighted in its humble branches pleased to find a home. 

As it slept,
the little tree dreamt, and in its dream, a golden bird descended and made its
home among its branches.   

“Why would
you choose me?” the tree asked the golden bird.

“We chose
each other,” said the golden bird, “and together we will make a bridge between
heaven and earth.”

The tree
shimmered gently and continued sleeping, dreaming it was listening to some
mysterious and radiant singing.

In reality, while
the golden bird had been searching for an earthly place to call home, it had
intended that home to be temporary—a stop along its journey of singing its song
through time and space.  However, the
golden bird decided to make its home among the branches of the tree because it
had, in fact, gotten one of its delicate feet stuck in a tight spot among the
branches, and couldn’t move.  But since it
liked the tree and felt at home there, it decided it would do what it was born
to do: sing.  And it would remain there
until it was no longer tangled with the tree.

The golden
bird sang a tree-song, a song of tree-energy, tree vibrations, tree leanings,
and it enjoyed very much how its voice was informed by the being of the
tree.  Sure it had its own song, but its
song had no overtones or harmonies, it was just pure tones issuing from a most
exquisitely fragile voice.  Now that it
was stuck in the tree, its singing made vibrations in the branches and these
vibrations created echoes, harmonies, and drones of endless variety and timber,
and so it kept singing this new and wonderful song, and felt it had discovered
sides of itself it never knew before.

The golden
bird grew to love that little sleeping tree. 
It appreciated the shelter, the experience of form and boundaries.  It loved the way the tree’s being made her
own song more resonant and deep.  And it
decided it would do whatever it could to protect that little tree and help it
grow to reach its fullest height.

Meanwhile
the tree slept.  It slept and dreamt it
had a golden bird living in its branches and that they had fallen madly in love
with one another.

In the
spring, the tree began to awaken, born into a blue sky dappled with clouds the
shapes of castles.  As the tree grew more
and more awake, it began to enjoy being a tree very much.   It reached and it stretched, it swayed and
it leaned.  It grew green leaves and soft
blossoms and sent deeper and deeper roots rivering through the surrounding
valley. 

Every night,
it slept and it dreamt about the singing, and as it grew, it realized it could
do so many more things than when it was a seed or a sapling.  It was delighted to discover it could cast
its seeds far into the world and that the world would accept them and nestle
them deep into her womb. 

As it grew
even larger and its branches stretched even further, it could touch places even
further away.  It began to want more
light, more space, more sky, and somehow when it dreamt, the song it heard
seemed to tell it that all of its wantings were good—holy, wonderful, meant to
be.  So it wanted more and the
surrounding world gave it more, pouring down rain, sun, and soothing winds.

The tree, in
turn, gave oxygen to the world.  It loved
making this mysterious force, loved how it became one with the wind and felt it
breathe into the sky and how all the creatures around the tree enlivened and
quickened with enthusiasm when new oxygen was produced.

One night, in
a quiet moment in the light of the moon, the tree was not quite asleep and not
quite awake when it heard singing—the same singing it had been hearing in its
dreams.  The tree shimmered.  The sound filled its branches with light.  Every branch and budding leaf quivered with
joy.  The tree listened and listened all
through the night.  It stood there awake,
swaying to the song.  And as the dawn
kissed the night sky and made it blush with the deep presence of its
honey-scented kiss, the tree suddenly realized a golden bird really did live in
its branches, and a shimmering thrill quivered through it from the tips of its
branches down to its gnarled roots. 

The golden
bird sang its song of light and as it sang the tree decided its primary reason
for living was to protect that golden bird. 
Little did it know that the golden bird had the same idea. 

Over time
however, in the tree’s goodness and curiosity of heart, it became a harbor for
many types of chattering creatures, each competing for the best spot in the
tree.  At first the tree didn’t mind all
the noise and activity, but after while all the hustle and bustle began to
distract the tree from its primary purpose, and what was worse, it couldn’t
hear the golden bird as well.

And as much
as the tree loved the golden bird and wanted it to stay forever, it knew it
must have a home somewhere else. 
Perhaps, the tree thought, she had come from a faraway shore or perhaps she
came from another tree, a universal tree crowned with the heavens, one that
draped a canopy of verdant green over all things.  Wherever it came from, it was determined to
not only find the golden bird’s home, but to help it return there. 

The tree
whirled its branches in a wild frenzy, hoping to loosen the bird, but its efforts
had the opposite effect, and the golden bird’s leg only stuck faster in its
spot.  The tree talked incessantly all
day and sometimes all night, creating all sorts of dramas and stories hoping to
help inspire the bird to think up an idea to help free itself.  The tree wanted more and more space with
which to spread its branches further and further hoping if it did the growth
would open the stuck spot and loosen the leg of the golden bird.

Little did
the tree know that if it really had wanted to, the golden bird could have
lifted, leaving its leg behind only to sprout a new one as it flew away, but
the golden bird was so very moved by the tree’s devotion that it stayed.  It stayed and it sang.

Over many
years the tree kept trying to free the bird, but still it could not. It went
mad for the trying and the failing.  It
swooned into a stupor of depression so much so that it began to only focus on
the frenzies of its own talking, and of its own swirling wanting.  It tried so hard to free that golden bird that
it forgot to listen to the her song.  Over
time, it somehow managed, as strange as it seemed, to forget the golden bird
was there, even though it loved her dearly.

To anyone
looking from a distance, it would appear the tree hated the golden bird, that
it was somehow an opposing force trying to harm the golden bird or at very
least drown out its song.  In actuality,
the tree stood in deep devotion to that golden bird, and all of its activities,
as misguided as they appeared to be, were in service of the one who dwelled in
its branches.  Its efforts were, in a
word, holy.

The golden
bird used the magic of its song to transform the efforts of the tree into the
very growth and expansion of the tree. 
The tree grew and learned so many things as it sought to free the bird.  It became a strong and deeply rooted tree,
one whose boughs became a favorite climbing place for the children of the
nearby village.  And the golden bird
looked upon all of the tree’s efforts as those of a highly active and creative
child.  She forgave its every forgetting
and knew that running through its trunk was the thickest blood of the deepest
devotion.

One late
summer afternoon the sky darkened.  An
ominous shiver swept through the leaves of the tree, thunder roiled through the
valley like an invisible wave from an invisible sea.  Within minutes a storm careened off the
surrounding mountains, echoing through the tree sending it spinning in place
like a top, and had it not been for its roots, it would have twisted out of the
ground and tumbled away.

In the midst
of the storm the tree suddenly heard and remembered the singing of the golden
bird, and it stood up as tall as it could reach, stretching and unfolding its
branches as high as they could go hoping to simply hoist that bird back into
heaven.  The tree wept its leaves into
the wind as the rain pelted down.  It
tried to heave itself upwards, lifting itself from the earth, but its roots
were attached too deeply in earth.

And still
the storm raged.  And still the bird
sang.  And through the wind and rain, the
thunder and the cooling air, the tree loved that singing with such a love that
the world could not, and indeed would never fully understand.  How could it be that such an unlikely pair
could create such a partnership of such breadth and such harmony.

In their
time together they had done just as the golden bird told the tree they would in
its dream from long ago:  they had created
a bridge between heaven and earth.  The
golden bird wanted a place to settle and sing, and that she got.   The tree wanted to grow and to delight in
the world, and that it got.  And the
golden bird grew to love the tree, and the tree grew to love the golden bird
and they both desired to protect the other. However, only the golden bird knew
the truth of the inevitable.

And in the
distance, the golden bird saw the lightning. 
She saw it splitting the sky and lighting up the village and the
valley.  She tried to warn the tree, tell
it to look out and be careful, to bend out of the way, to stop reaching so
high, but she knew the tree was rooted to its own personal earth, and that
ultimately she could do nothing to save it. 
So she did what the tree loved most: she sang.   

She sang a song
of sky and of blossoming horizons.  With
every note the golden bird draped shawls of light over the branches of the
tree.  It garlanded the tree with
dazzling strings of musical fireflies that bobbed and danced in the storm
lashed branches.  She sang hoping to
guide that tree safely through another season. 
She sang even though she felt her foot loosening from the spot that had
held her there for so long.  She sang as
the storm trampled through the sky and gathered directly over the tree.

And just
before the lightning touched the tree with its terrible, sudden stroke, tearing
it asunder and blasting it to pieces, the tree knew the way to free the golden
bird.  Instead of doing all of the things
it had been trying to do—all of those things that actually created tension and
more tightness within itself, it suddenly knew to pause, to breathe, and to be
still.  And as it relaxed, a song began
to rise like a river up through its roots, and up through its entire
being.  As the song rose, it gathered
earth and moisture, and these flowed into its song, giving it strength and
power.  And when the song reached the
branch of the golden bird, it struck the bird with such joy, such sweet and
undying devotion that the bird wept, it wept into the sky with tears that
rained down upon the tree in a baptism of the most fierce and tender love.  And their songs merged becoming one song,
rising and streaming into the heavens directly up through the lightning bolt
that struck the tree, and into the very heart of the Divine Itself, and together,
for a moment that held the entirety of eternity, that tree and that golden bird
sang, not as opposites on some mysterious, little known scale of misunderstood music,
but as one—one song of All Life, All Love, and of All Unending Joy. 


Thank you for your kind contributions to the continuing work 

of the Wonder Child Blog.   





 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Copyright Joseph Anthony of the Wonder Child Blog


On the Rebirth of Innocence, A Christmas Meditation

I wrote this last year around this time and was inspired to share it again today.  May it help fill you with hope and joy.

–Joseph


On the Rebirth of Innocence

A Christmas Meditation

by

Joseph Anthony

Everyone has
things happen to them that shouldn’t happen. 
Everyone carries wounds within their very cells.  This being said, everyone also has things happen
to them that should happen.  Everyone carries healing and purity within
their cells. Both leave imprints on the soul and the cells of the body.

Learn to
slowly integrate both into your life.

What?  Integrate pain?  That’s crazy. 
Except that every human life experiences pain—emotional, mental, and
physical.  Of course, it’s good to avoid
the unnecessary manufacture of pain and to not put one’s hand on a hot
stove.  However, we cannot avoid pain completely.  So when it comes, learn, within reason, to
feel it, especially the emotional and mental varieties.  All pain is a messenger.

I was asked
recently how often I moved towards the pain—the emotional pain.  I replied that most days the pain moves
towards me.  It’s safe to do that now.  Once not too long ago the pain wasn’t welcome;
I treated it like a monster, an outcast, a pariah.  Now it knows I will give it a place to spend
the night.  I will listen to it, sit with
it, and move towards it with intent to honor and ultimately transform it
through the very act of listening and embracing it.  It can be itself while knowing, its heart of
heart is love—protection—the desire to be whole.

The same is
true for healing.  It is safe to flow
towards me and from me.  It is welcome in
my heart, body, and soul.  I am learning
to open my arms to healing, to sit with it, listen to it and transform it into
anything it needs to be.  It can be
itself, even as it manifests itself as music, poetry, nature, the touch of a
friend, the smile of a child, you.

How does one
open their heart to healing?  Can
innocence really be reclaimed, reborn, rediscovered?  Is it ever completely lost?  Does it ever completely die?  Can it ever truly be stolen? And if it can be
reborn, how does one make room inside for that to happen? 

Keep in mind
the roots of the word: innocence is
related to the word noxious, and thus
means not-noxious, not harmful, not poison, and not sick (online etymology
dictionary).  This being the case
innocence can certainly be born again in our lives, indeed, it must be.  Our very bodies are equipped with healing
cells.  The same is true for the heart
and the soul.  We are all born with the
white blood cells of spirit and joy.

To be
specific, here, in a nutshell are some suggestions for allowing innocence to be
reborn within you:

Learn to
embrace your sorrow and pain.

Learn to
stop doing things that harm yourself and others.

Learn to
forgive others and yourself.

Learn to
seek forgiveness and repair anything you have broken.

Learn, with the
help and guidance of mentors, trusted friends, and therapists, to find
direction in your life.

Learn to
breathe fully.

Learn to be
in the moment—every moment.

Learn to
love yourself—your body, your own unique ways of thinking and praying and being.

Learn to be open to and to integrate healing modalities such as EFT into your life.

Learn to
play.

Learn to
sing.

There are
other things as well.  And while I think
the ultimate journey towards innocence involves unique moments of pain and
darkness for everyone in one way or another, everyone’s path also involves
unique moments of healing and revelation.

Know that
the worse you feel (even if you feel down and out right now), the more you are able to sit with the pain, the more
your life has been reduced to spiritual poverty, where your animal instincts
are crowding around your life, there is another part of you, a union of quiet
strength and willingness; a union of intuition and openness; a union of dreams
and passion, that is seeking your heart, your very own dingy, broken heart to
give birth to innocence.  It is looking
for a “house of bread.”  And it is guided
by both the star of your dreams and the light of your wounds.  And when you have humbled yourself or life
humbles you, know that innocence will be born again inside you.  It is seeking a place, daily, hourly, ever
more, to find a safe place to be born. And when it finds the manger of your
heart, open the doors, let the night winds swirl and dance, let those same
clumsy animals gather round for the body is beautiful, let those who shepherd innocence come near, and lo, let the Wonder Child be born anew.  Let the gift of the birth of your Divine
Innocence be adored, be praised, be showered
with treasure. Let that innocence rise and celebrate who you really are—your gifts
and talents.  Share them with the world,
help others, inspire others, nourish others with the Bread of Life growing within
you, and you will truly experience the rebirth of innocence–Divine innocence,
Holy innocence.  And your life and the
lives of those around you will truly help save the world.

Happy Holidays

from Joseph Anthony

at

The Wonder Child Blog





Copyright Joseph Anthony of the Wonder Child Blog


Green Man and the Holy Child, A Story for Earth Day 2013

 I first published this story almost two years ago.  In honor of Earth Day 2013, I am republishing it again with a few minor alterations.  Enjoy, and Happy Earth Day!


Green Man and the Holy Child

by

Joseph Anthony

The Little Girl leaned in close staring at the mass of upturned earth and roots that had formed at the base of the fallen birch.  There it was: a face; a man’s face, green-hued, eyes closed, sunken deep into the vast system of roots, soil, and lichen.  She looked at the face for several minutes, both fascinated and horrified (more fascinated than horrified though).  She studied it; wondering just how it got there.  And when he suddenly opened his eyes she fell backwards into the ferns.  And when a moss covered arm stretched towards her, she screamed.  And when he spoke, sending bits of earth and lichen scattering into the air, she couldn’t believe her ears.

 

“Please,” he whispered, his voice soaked with earth and shadows, “I mean you no harm.  Our world will be doomed if you do not come.”

She stepped closer searching his gold-flecked eyes.  They were ancient and filled with a sorrow so visible it cut right through her fear and went straight to her heart.

 

“Why do you need me?” she asked.

 

You know about circles,” he smiled, little white moths fluttering from his mouth as he spoke.  “You are careful where you walk.  You touch with your eyes and hands with reverence and kindness.  You give my people secret names and run your fingers through the tops of the ferns like your mother running her hands through your hair.  I’ have heard you telling stories to the salamanders and to the stones in the creek.  I heard you use foul language when you found the pile of beer bottles and fast food wrappers by the pond.  I saw you carry the trash home.  And,” he said, lowering his voice, looking into her eyes with a smile, “my bride saw you lay your hands on the wounded deer and heal him.”  The Girl blushed.  

 

“OK,” she said, “but that doesn’t answer my question.  Why is your world doomed?  And who are you?”

 

“Forgive me, I am Green Man, Father of the Earth.  And I misspoke a moment ago.  I should have said, “OUR worlds will be doomed if you do not come.”

 

“But why?” she said, almost shouting, “Why will they be doomed?”

 

“Disillusionment,” he said with bits of leaves falling from his lips.  “There are so few in my world who believe in your kind anymore–so much destruction, poisoning, and senseless ravaging.  There are many in my world who want to destroy your race.  But they don’t understand the circles like you and I.   And so I thought you could teach them.”

 

“Me?”

 

“Yes.  They hardly listen to me anymore.  So I thought if they heard about the circles from one of your kind—one they can trust—then perhaps they would reconsider their plan of destruction.  Besides, my bride, the Green Woman, or, as you call her, Mother Earth, thinks it’s a good idea.  After she saw that deer spring back to its legs and bound away into the woods, she told me if anyone could save us—it would be you.”

 

The Little Girl closed her eyes for several minutes.  The woods hushed to hear her reply.  She knew what she would do.  She took a deep breath, opened her eyes, and then reached out placing her hand in his.  She half expected his arm to crumble like a rotting log, but instead it was strong and powerful.  He smiled and she noticed tears forming in the corners of his eyes like dew forming in the grass.

 

“Now what?” she asked.

 

“We go in,” said Green Man, “this is a door.”

 

“Will it hurt going through? It looks so crowded.”

 

“No child, the door will widen for you.  It will not hurt.  Tickle perhaps, maybe a few little scratches, but nothing serious.” 

 

“Shall we?” He asked.

 

She nodded and then he pulled her through the roots and earth.  She felt sticks and cool, moist dirt pass through her.  A few twigs got stuck in her hair and more than one stone bumped her sides.  The finer roots combed through her body and her soul, removing any last doubts she may have had about herself.

 

When they arrived on the other side she saw a world of brilliant green infused with golden hues.  There were eyes everywhere—every leaf, flower, tree, rock had eyes.  All of them watched her curiously.  Most looked suspicious.  Some filled with tears when they saw her.

 

As they walked hand in hand she saw Green Man’s full body for the first time.  It was completely draped in moss and leaves.  It trailed vines and clumps of earth and stood over 9 feet tall.  His arms and legs were covered with lichen and sticks, leaves and bits of white, curling bark.  His hair was one big mass of ferns and his back was dotted with mushrooms.  She smiled and somehow felt safer than she had ever felt before.

 

“Where are we going?” she asked.

 

“To the council,” he said, stopping suddenly.  Someone was running towards them.

 

“My bride,” he shouted, “what is it?”

 

“It’s begun,” Green Woman said, her voice trembling.

 

“What?!” Green Man shouted, “I was not there for the final vote!”

 

“The council did not want to wait for your return.” Green Woman said.  “They did not think she would come.”  The Green Woman looked down at the Little Girl with eyes dark as night.  “But I knew she would.”

 

The Little Girl looked up and felt as if she were looking into Mother Nature Herself, which indeed she was.

 

Green Woman looked a little like her groom, only her hair was studded with morning glories and her dress of vines and leaves flowed like an elegant river of a thousand shades of rippling green.

 

“We must hurry,” said Green Man.

 

“Is it too late?” the Little Girl said.

 

“There is no such thing as too late,” Green Man said, “nonetheless, we must hurry.”

 

 He swept down and lifted the Little Girl onto his shoulders.  She felt as if she were riding a walking tree.

 

They ran along the grass covered street.  Flowers and trees ran after them on their legs of roots.  Rocks tucked their faces in and began rolling along side them.  Frogs, toads, deer, bears, and many other animals followed with them.  When the Little Girl looked behind them she even saw a river flowing towards them with fish leaping in and out of the water as it moved.

 

Meanwhile, back in the Little Girl’s world, trees were snatching unsuspecting hikers and hurtling them down mountains or devouring them instantly in gaping mouths.  The ground was opening beneath the boots of loggers.  Roots with inescapable grasps were grabbing the ankles of fishermen standing along the riverbanks.  Backyards with swing sets and swimming pools suddenly disappeared in massive sink holes.  Entire rows of houses lifted, heaved, and feel backwards into the waiting crunching mouths.  Storms ignited over lakes and golf courses, sending lighting’s death-inducing fingers crawling everywhere like electric spiders.  Within minutes thousands world over were gone.

 

Green Man burst open the doors of the council.

 

“How dare you!” He shouted.  “How dare you dishonor me by acting without my voice!  I demand you stop the destruction at once and hear my witness!”

 

The room was filled with enormous mushrooms and trees—all with staring eyes.  Some of the members bent over scratching crooked letters in tablets of stone. 

 

And when the council saw the Girl it fell silent.  She scrambled down Green Man, brushed herself off and walked confidently into the center of the room. She looked back where Green Man and Green Woman stood.  They nodded.  She bent down and all eyes followed her as she lifted a small stone the size of an almond to her face and whispered something to it.  “Thank you,” she said to the stone and then stood up, and to the amazement of the council members, walked behind their chairs and began drawing on the smooth, hard wood floor. 

 

“Is this OK?” She asked the floor.

 

“Yes,” it whispered like a snake, “Yesss.”

 

Slowly and carefully she inscribed a huge circle around them all.  And when she was finished she stood and turned, looking each council member in the eye.

 

“You are blind,” she began, “for every one of my kind that you remove, you lose one tree, flower, or stone.  And my people are just as blind.  For every tree we remove, a person somewhere, someplace, dies.  And so it ever shall be.  You see,” she continued, gaining momentum and strength as she felt Green Man and Green Woman watching her, “we were spoken from the same Word.  The same Word that sang you sang us.  We are formed from the same soil and when the Creator breathed Spirit into us, He breathed Spirit into you.  We are bound with unbreakable bonds.  And so I say again, if you destroy us, you destroy yourselves.”

 

She paused looking around the great room, and before anyone could respond to what she had just said, she started again.

 

“The opposite is also true.  When one of my kind plants a tree or a flower, one of my kind is born in some other part of the world.  When one of my kind is born one of your kind blossoms or hatches from a seed.”

 

“Is all of this true?” interrupted one of the members, “why were we not informed?”

 

“It is.” She replied, “and you were informed.  You knew.  Everyone and everything knows we are connected.  It is just so many of us refuse to believe it.” 

 

Just then the doors to the council room were thrown open and in strode an army of silver and white birch trees, each one carrying a dead tree in its giant branches. 

 

The council members rose and gasped. 

 

One of the birches held a dead sapling, and cried, “Stop the destruction!  For every one of the humans we destroy one of our kind falls.”

 

“So it’s true,” whispered the council. 

 

And as the council members erupted into loud discussions, the Little Girl began walking from dead tree to dead tree, touching their petrified faces.  One by one the dead trees rose up verdant green.  Each one she healed bowed to her and began forming a circle around her.  The council fell silent as they watched her resurrect the fallen trees.  She laughed as the trees entwined their branches and began dancing in a great circle of green around her.  The spruce trees began playing violins that they formed instantly from their own branches.  The bamboo trees kept time clapping their hands like claves.  The rivers flowed around them in rhythm to the music.  All of the animals joined in.  Green Man and Green Woman joined hands and spun around sending twigs and leaves and butterflies sailing around the room.  And the council rose as one and sent word to all corners of the earth to stop the destruction.  It also sent out all the rivers to begin flowing backwards until time turned back to just before the destruction began restoring everything and everyone to its proper, living place.

 

And while there was still work to be done, much progress was made that day by Green Man, his bride, and a Little Girl who knew a great deal about circles.


Copyright Joseph Anthony of the Wonder Child Blog


On the Value of Being a Crack-Pot

On the Value of Being a Crack-Pot
Dear Wonder Child Blog Readers,
I was sent this story yesterday from a friend in India.  
I like it a lot and so I am sharing it with you.  
Peace and Light, Peace and Light.
Joseph 
A water-bearer in India had two large pots, each hung on each end of a pole which he carried across his neck. One of the pots had a crack in it, and while the other pot was perfect and always delivered a full portion of water at the end of the long walk from the stream to the master’s house, the cracked pot arrived only half full.

For a full two years this went on daily, with the bearer delivering only one and a half pot full of water in his master’s house. Of course, the perfect pot was proud of its accomplishments, perfect to the end for which it was made. But the poor cracked pot was ashamed of its own imperfection, and miserable that it was able to accomplish only half of what it had been made to do.

After two years of what it perceived to be a bitter failure, it spoke to the water-bearer one day by the stream. “I am ashamed of myself, and I want to apologize to you.” “Why?” asked the bearer. “What are you ashamed of?” “I have been able, for these past two years, to deliver only half my load because this crack in my side causes water to leak out all the way back to your master’s house. Because of my flaws, you have to do all of this work, and you don’t get full value from your efforts,” the pot said.

The water-bearer felt sorry for the old cracked pot, and in his compassion he said, “As we return to the master’s house, I want you to notice the beautiful flowers along the path.” Indeed, as they went up the hill, the old cracked pot took notice of the sun warming the beautiful wild flowers on the side of the path, and this cheered it some. But at the end of the trail, it still felt bad because it had leaked out half its load, and so again it apologized to the bearer for its failure.

The bearer said to the pot, “Did you notice that there were flowers only on your side of your path, but not on the other pot’s side? That’s because I have always known about your flaw, and I took advantage of it. I planted flower seeds on your side of the path, and every day while we walk back from the stream, you’ve watered them. For two years I have been able to pick these beautiful flowers to decorate my master’s table. Without you being just the way you are, he would not have this beauty to grace his house.”

Each of us has our own unique flaws. We’re all cracked pots. Don’t be afraid of your flaws. Acknowledge them and go out boldly, knowing that in our weakness we can find strength .


Copyright Joseph Anthony of the Wonder Child Blog



Finding Your Center: A Pedagogical Story For Anxious Children of All Ages

Finding Your Center

A Pedagogical Story for Anxious Children

of All Ages


As many of
you know I am back in the Waldorf School teaching first grade.  It is such a gift to be able to freely teach
the whole child.  One of the ways this is
done is through stories.  Since the first
day of school I have been telling the children a running story that weaves
around the Great Secret of Beauty.  In
the story a boy and a girl, a grandfather, an angel, a dragon, and various other
characters appear and have many adventures and talks together. The subjects and
themes of the story are culled from where I think the emotional states of the
children are.  Since there are a few students
who are a little nervous or anxious for one reason or another, this part of the
story came out.  It is for all children,
big and small who sometimes feel afraid and do things they wish they didn’t.

One day the
boy was sitting in the grass in his backyard. 
He had been thinking about what the dragon had said to him the day
before.  For sometimes when it seems a
child is not listening, it is well to remember that it only seems that
way.  Children are listening, and when
they are ready they will reflect on what you have said.  And on this particular morning, the boy was
thinking about what his friend the dragon had told him the day before.

“I used to
hit people with my tail,” said the dragon, “In fact, I used to eat people. I
don’t know why I did these things.  I
guess I was actually nervous and afraid and my fears came out like that.  And besides, people are yummy.”

“But how did
you learn to not hit and eat people?” asked the boy.

“Time,” said
the dragon, “it took time and practice.”

“Will I ever
change?” asked the boy, “I don’t want to hit my friends and say mean
things.  I just want to have fun and
sometimes I worry I will never change.”

And as he
was remembering the dragon’s answer he heard another voice, a tiny, slow voice.  One that came as if it measured every word it
said.

“You are
changing,” said the voice, “and your friend was right, it takes time.”

“How did you
know what I was thinking?” the boy asked the keeper of the voice he could not
yet see.

“You were
thinking out loud,” said the voice.

And then the
boy’s ears caught the direction of the sound and when he followed that direction
with his eyes, he found the source of that slow, measured voice.  It was coming from a snail sliding slowly
towards him carrying his great, spiraling house upon his back.

“Oh, hello
snail.”

“Good
morning,” said the snail stopping to rest on the leaf of an autumn colored mum.

“So you
think I can change?” asked the boy, “You really think I will stop hitting other
children?  I really don’t want to hurt
anyone.  It’s just that sometimes I get so
mad, especially when I’m feeling scared, and then before I realize what’s
happened, I’ve hurt someone.”

“Can change?”
said the snail, “You are changing.  Some
changes are quick, like a shooting star flashing across the night sky; other
changes are slow, like winter melting into spring.  You need to practice of course, find other
ways to move through your fears and worries. 
You need to find your center. But you are changing, rest assured.”

“My center?  What does that mean?”

“It’s how I
built this house I carry with me.  And I
built it without any hands.”

“I’m afraid
I don’t understand,” said the boy, “sometimes I feel like I don’t understand
anything.”

“Well,” said
the snail, “walk the path of my house with me. 
I’ll lead you around the lawn.  As
we walk the shape of my spiraling shell, think of a place you like to go when
you are feeling afraid.  Think of a thing
you like to do that helps you feel calm, peaceful, and happy.  And as we walk this spiraling walk you will
discover your center.”

And so the
snail slipped slowly to the ground and began sliding through the grass a great
spiral, a labyrinth that slowly unfurled inwards towards a still, focused center.  The boy walked behind the snail, careful not
to go ahead or step on the snail, for his steps were much bigger than the
sliding trail of the talking snail.  As
they moved together, the boy thought about times he was mad or afraid, nervous
or scared and he suddenly remembered that when he felt those ways he often
found himself drawing.  In fact, as he
neared the center of the spiral he knew—drawing was his centering place. And as
he stood in the center of the spiral, the spiral drawn by the snail, he felt
happy and relieved to know he had a place to go when he felt uncomfortable
feelings.

“So you see,”
said the snail, with a voice as gradual as the dawn, “we all have a
center.  We all have something we can do,
or a place we can go where we can pause, rest, and calm ourselves down.  And when we go to that place, or do that
thing, over and over, over time and over years, we build ourselves a house, a
house we can carry within, well, in my case on my back, but the point is, we
build ourselves a house of habits—healthy, helpful habits.  And these become a safe place to go.”

“I
understand,” said the boy, “is it OK if I have more than one centering place?”

“Of
course!  You humans are like that.  They have many mansions within themselves
that they can explore when they need to.”

“Oh good,”
said the boy, “because mostly I draw when I’m feeling nervous, but other times
I go for walks, ride my bike, talk with grandfather, and sometimes, and you’re
the first person I’ve ever told this: sometimes I even sing and dance.”

“Wonderful!”
said the snail, “Thank you for telling me. 
Those are all perfect places to go and things to do to find your center.  And the more you go to those places, and the
more you do the things you love, you will find yourself hitting your friends
less and less.  You will find yourself
saying fewer and fewer naughty things. 
In fact you will see that your friends have their own centering places
and things they love and you’ll know then that they too have hearts that
sometimes feel afraid and nervous just like you do, and then you will find
yourself just being nice because you are really so much alike.  And oh, what fun you will have sharing your
centers, inviting your friends to walk with you, draw with you, and sing with
you.”

“That does
sound fun,” said the boy.

“Well,” said
the snail, “I must be off, I have to get into town soon and meet the man who
owns the bicycle store. I am going to buy a bike today!  Toodle-Loo!”

“Wait,” said
the boy, “I have one more question please.”

“Ask away.”

“Well,
sometimes I forget my centering places. 
What should I do then?”

“Breathe,”
said the snail, “Breathe deeply from your belly, still yourself like a mountain,
and that will help center you.”

“Thank you,”
said the boy.

“You’re
welcome,” said the snail, “and another thing you can do to help yourself find
your centering place is to talk with someone you trust.  Sometimes we all need help finding our centering
places.”

And with
that the snail raced towards town, which if you were looking at the snail you would
never have guessed he was racing.  You
would have just thought: “There goes the slowest friend I know.  Look at him go carrying his house upon his back,
carrying his centering place that he built without any hands; that he built
with the slow, patient practice of centering himself.  There he goes to go buy a bike.  A bike? 
How is he going to ride a bike?”

And once the
story was over, without me ever asking: “Do you have a centering place or
something you do that helps you feel better when you’re feeling afraid?”, the
children, one by one, shared their centering places.

“I go to a
still, quiet place.”

“I draw.”

“I go for
walks.”

“I ride my
bike.”

“I
skateboard.”

“I sleep.”

“I read.”

“I pet my cat.”

And while I
did not ask them, I will ask you.  

“Where
is your centering place?  

What do you do
when you’re feeling anxious and afraid?”

Copyright Joseph Anthony of the Wonder Child Blog