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Inviting Silence

Until yesterday, I had not heard of Gunilla Norris and her poetry. Parker Palmer sent a Facebook message with this beautiful poem embedded. It is a long poem, but is worth whiling and lingering over. Parker Palmer writes about the need for silence in life. This allows us turn inward and listen as our soul speaks to us.

As I move forward in the dissertation process, several things stood out in this poem. Sharing silence as a political act reminded me of how the polis consists of persons where exchanging anything suggests we act politically. In the early writing stages, I argue that teaching is a series of ongoing political actions as we choose the way we teach and what we teach.

Thich Nhat Hanh suggested we find the extraordinary in the ordinary. It is in the lives of each person that the extraordinary potentially emerges. It is in a thoughtful pedagogy that this can emerge in our self, our children, and their children. It is Sabbath’s silence we find space.

Within each of us there is a silence

–a silence as vast as a universe.

We are afraid of it…and we long for it.

When we experience that silence, we remember

who we are: creatures of the stars, created

from the cooling of this plant, created

from dust and gas, created

from the elements, created

from time and space…created

from silence.

The experience of silence is now so rare

that we must cultivate it and treasure it.

That is especially true for shared silence.

Sharing silence is, in fact, a political act.

When we can stand aside from the usual and

perceive the fundamental, change begins to happen.

Our lives align with deeper values

and the lives of others are touched and influenced.

Silence brings us to back to basics, to our senses,

to our selves. It locates us. Without that return

we can go so far away from our true natures

that we end up, quite literally, beside ourselves.

We live blindly and act thoughtlessly.

We endanger the delicate balance which sustains

our lives, our communities, and our planet.

Each of can make a difference.

Politicians and visionaries will not return us

to the sacredness of life.

That will be done by ordinary men and women

who together or alone can say,

“Remember to breathe, remember to feel,

remember to care,

let us do this for our children and ourselves

and our children’s children.

Let us practice for life’s sake.”

About ivonprefontaine

I have been an educator for almost 20 years. Prior to that, I worked in private industry for 15 years, then returned to university to earn my education degree. For the past 11 years, I have been a co-creator of learning in a unique, progressive, alternative educational school of choice. Currently, I am engaged in a doctoral program at Gonzaga University in Spokane. A main theme in my learning there has been the roles of systems thinking, complexity theory, and organizational theory, and how they apply to education generally and the learning environment I share with students, parents, and colleagues.

19 responses »

  1. wise poetry.
    perhaps after enough individuals
    come together mindfully living
    the collective consciousness
    will change the situation

    Reply
  2. You are correct the poem is excellent. I can remember when I was in grade school I was always taught that ‘silence was golden’, and I guess that has always stayed with me. I was always the quiet one in the family, one who would always meditate when I was younger, I would always listen first, and think about what I heard and saw. The message in the poem is exceptional…and you comments blend perfectly with it. Always an awesome teacher…thanks for sharing my brother, have a wonderful Sunday…God bless!

    Reply
  3. this is study-guide good. I want to be more quiet–more still–but still dig.

    this just resonates. Like M Theory. and by that I mean from the tiniest string forward (my weird phraseology)

    another winner winner fill in the blank.

    Reply
  4. Silence, yes, especially when it gets us to listen just a bit more…

    Reply
  5. Wonderful poem, well worth lingering over. Silence allows us to live, hear and discuss with the inner being. So important.

    Reply
  6. I love silence, Ivon; within it I find myself…

    Reply
  7. exceptional! easily relate to this
    thank you for this wonderful post!!

    Reply
  8. I loved this post about silence. I have been trying to get my sons, (9-12) to understand and appreciate silence. They agreed it was important as they ran past me shouting at one another and playing. I hope I’ve planted the seeds anyway. Great job!

    Reply

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