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how the light

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Pat's poem, Barry Moser's illustration. Proceeds to AWA outreach. For the text of the poem, click here.

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Saturday, 05 January 2013 15:28

Here is a new poem — too new to know if it is any good — to wish you a safe and happy new year. For those of you who want news of us – read on below.

HOW TO RIDE A PLANET

Well, you are in the shower
and it’s still dark outside.
The bathroom is a tiny one
your teenaged son and his father built
before either of them knew how.
It’s really dark outside.
It’s wet inside, but a cozy,
drippy, shower-wet
and you’re feeling pretty good.

Then you notice in the corner
of the shower, on a wet, white tile,
a rather handsome spider
trying with all her (?) might
to climb the wall.

You have tried to climb walls.
You watch her grope for purchase,
lose it, try again.
You wonder if the nice, wet warm
to you, is nice to her.
You doubt it.

Then you notice that her front legs
no longer can hold on
although the other six seem steady.
She can’t move from the square
she was on when you first saw her.

You imagine her fall. Can spiders swim?
You consider fear, and can’t find any.
You are not afraid.
Except for her.

You reach outside the shower
to a stack of navy blue and white cloths.
You choose white.
She is black – she will look good in white.

Carefully you hold the white terrycloth
below her back-most legs,
touch them with it,
and she drops onto the cloth,
an aerial acrobat
letting go of climbing walls.
She falls into the safety net.

You hold the white cloth

with its small black rider
between your two hands
and lay it gently on top of the pile.

How elegant she looks!

You wonder
how she liked her ride.
And you can see yourself
riding on a planet
that you, too, cannot comprehend,
let alone the greater questions:
who gave me a place to fall?
And why?

~Pat Schneider
December, 2012

This is to thank you for being in our lives, and to apologize for this wimpy holiday response to cards, calls, and just plain old love however it gets expressed.. I wish I was able to send you each a beautifully designed something or other, but I am still at the (hopefully far) ragged edge of a (so far) 2 and 1/2 month inability to walk without cane or walker — blog and email is what I am able to manage right now.

We aren’t sure (still!) of the exact cause of my left leg going on full strike, but a variety of western and eastern medical experts here in the valley and in Boston are deciding that it has its root in my having not realized (here I quote one of the doctors) “You cannot live the life you lived at 50 when you are 78!” In other words, to quote my Ozark grandma, “I plumb near wore my fool self out.” I am, in short, having to re-invent myself from a middle-aged woman to an old woman. I like old women, so this is not a horrific idea for me; it’s just that my skill bank at being an Old Grey Mare isn’t of the highest caliber.

The good news is that my new book, How the Light Gets In: Writing as a Spiritual Practice, will be released by Oxford University Press on March 1st. Our youngest daughter, Bethany Schneider’s first novel has been bought by various publishers for readers in five nations (US, Britain, France, Italy and Spain) and will be released in North America by Penguin in May. It is River of No Return, and her pseudonym is “Bee Ridgway” (my mother’s maiden last name, and “Bee” is what her partner, Kate calls her for a first name. And our son, Paul Schneider’s fifth book for Henry Holt will be released in September, a history of the Mississippi River titled Old Man River. His wife, Nina Bramhall is a professional photographer and tennis instructor. Laurel and her new wife, Emilie Townes, are moving from being professor at Chicago Theological Seminary (Laurel) and dean at Yale (Emilie) to being together at Vanderbilt — professor of theology, philosophy and women’s studies (Laurel) and dean of the entire theological school, (Emilie). Becca is finishing her second term as chair of theater, speech and dance at Brown University and she and her new husband, Will Rogers, are both looking forward to her being just a professor again. She may have time for her kayak again! Our two grandkids are indeed grand: Sarah writing her dissertation in education, Natty entering college in the fall.

There are exciting things being planned for my book — releases on both coasts, book party in NYC and possible readings and workshops in North Carolina, Sacramento, Ontario, — maybe even Ireland. I plan to be fully mobile, up-and-at’em, by the first weekend in April when AWA’s book launch here in the valley is planned the weekend of April 6 and AWA West and Pacific School of Religion’s planned book launch for me in Berkeley the weekend of April 27. I would love to see you at any of these events.

Warm best wishes and happy 2013. May all your days be merry and bright.

Pat

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Amherst Writers & Artists (AWA) is the organization that is carrying on the work Pat established and carried on for more than 30 years. To discover how you can write with an AWA Method Group, or become trained as an AWA facilitator, please click this link.