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Category Archives: Education

Gospel

The world gospel comes from the Greek and Latin meaning “a reward for bringing good news.” When we walk through life and notice what we experience we are rewarded. It requires a mindful and thoughtful approach noticing the old and the new sharing space with each other; dependent upon each other.

We are dependent on what is there. Thich Nhat Hanh suggested a garden’s weeds enable the growth of new plants. Farmers plow the previous year’s growth under avoiding erosion, adding nutrition to the soil, and helping keep moisture. We do not know whether the news is good until we pause and remember the context behind the news. What did that “bad” news really mean? When we listen more closely, we hear the music of the world singing a different refrain for us.

Philip Levine wrote this wonderful poem. I thought about what it means to receive news. Perhaps that letter in his pocket was not bad news, but, once he was over the pain, he found something new that he had not sensed before.

The new grass rising in the hills,

the cows loitering in the morning chill,

a dozen or more old browns hidden

in the shadows of the cottonwoods

beside the stream bed. I go higher

to where the road gives up and there’s

only a faint path strewn with lupine

between the mountain oaks. I don’t

ask myself what I’m looking for.

I didn’t come for answers

to a place like this, I came to walk

on the earth, still cold, still silent.

Still ungiving, I’ve said to myself,

although it greets me with last year’s

dead thistles and this year’s

hard spines, early blooming

wild onions, the curling remains

of spider’s cloth. What did I bring

to the dance? In my back pocket

a crushed letter from a woman

I’ve never met bearing bad news

I can do nothing about. So I wander

these woods half sightless while

a west wind picks up in the trees

clustered above. The pines make

a music like no other, rising and

falling like a distant surf at night

that calms the darkness before

first light. “Soughing” we call it, from

Old English, no less. How weightless

words are when nothing will do.

Wisdom

Wisdom.

Dr. Seuss’, Theodore Geisel, books explained abstract concepts fairness, being honest, and accepting differences for children and parents. The irony was for most of his writing career he had no children of his own. It was only when he married a second time that he had two step-daughters.

Whether he intended to or not, Seuss was a social justice teacher. He introduced children and their parents with his writing to unforgettable characters who demonstrated what we could learn on Mulberry Street.

His unforgettable lyrical prose imprinted itself on children in ways they were recalled and, even if misspoken, it made little difference. After all, the words were often made up by Dr. Seuss. Perhaps, we find wisdom in our imaginations? Imagine a world where we treated each other with respect and dignity.

Day of the Imprisoned Writer: a letter to Mahvash Sabet

Day of the Imprisoned Writer: a letter to Mahvash Sabet.

We have many people around the world who are imprisoned for their political and religious beliefs. Usually, I find when we put a face on those that are somehow different they become real and human. It is important to reach out and take the hand of those who suffer persecution at the hands of others regardless of the reasons. It is important to make people real and human.

When I did my undergraduate work, I was able to take one special education course. In the course, a point that was made several times and stuck with me was that we are more alike despite obvious differences than we are different. It is overwhelmingly so.

Do we need science to tell us the obvious? Or, can we see the humanity that lies beneath the differences we want to see?

I think ; therefore I am & Je pense, donc je suis & Penso dunque sono & Ich denke, also bin ich & Pienso, luego existo & Düşünüyorum, öyleyse varım !!

I think ; therefore I am & Je pense, donc je suis & Penso dunque sono & Ich denke, also bin ich & Pienso, luego existo & Düşünüyorum, öyleyse varım !!.

The link included quotes from Rumi and Tolstoy. We begin changing the world as an internal project, one that changes who we are first. The ripple effect is only possible, not certain. I say possible, because there is no certainty in life’s project. They take time, patience, and compassion to encounter who we are in an honest way. Living is hard work and it is not easily completed.

The change in self is possibly easier when we are older and take time living. It is also harder. Are we able to move the same way we did as a younger person? We can be more mindful and attentive perhaps. We can only hope the ripple reaches those close and they are able to use those ripples in meaningful ways.

Whatever we do, we should only expect the change to be our change. We can only till the soil closest and most meaningful to us.

 

It is an issue of private shame

It is an issue of private shame.

The link is not to a poem, but rather to a series of quotes about hunger and the personal shame that comes with it. Politicians use hunger and other social justice issues as talking points and not seeing it as a matter of private and public shame in countries such as Canada and the US with their wealth.

On the left, we have politicians who would subscribe to giving people something. On the right, politicians would blame those who go hungry including the children. Giving people a hand up is important and walking with them is a part of the longer journey. Solving issues such as hunger is community work. It takes neighbours helping each other in those moments of need. Regardless of what we have, we share. Wouldn’t that be a powerful learning in our schools.

¡Nunca más!

¡Nunca más!.

The link is to a short poem in English and Spanish. If our children do not learn, we may not teach them. The role of parents is teaching their children.

It is not that what we teach will be accepted. Children, as they become more independent, become more able to set their path.

Teaching is inviting others into learning. It is not about guaranteeing learning. The world changes and the result is what is needed to live in the world and be in relationships is changing. Perhaps the best thing we can teach our children is to be thankful for what they have and live in the moment recognizing what they have in each moment.

Dancing With Your Skeletons

Dancing With Your Skeletons.

Yesterday, I made a short presentation about mindfulness in daily life at a small church 2 hours west of Edmonton. The pastor spoke about lightening our burden and not carrying the weight of the world in our backpacks. It is important to lighten the load.

Dyan makes  a similar point using the metaphors of dancing with skeletons. The Marianne Williamson provided a more Jungian approach in the quote about shadows.

There are reasons we are called and given voice in our lives. Sometimes, we do not see the reasons easily and we need to examine the weight in our backpack, dance with our skeletons, and know our shadow side. Being mindful is about knowing what to discard, what to retain, and making sense of it as we take the next step. I spent 20 years teaching and it was challenging at times, but I know those challenges were worthwhile and meant something. I was not always sure of the meaning, but I danced with the tunes being played in the shadows and my skeletons learned to dance as they came out of the closet.

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