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Tag Archives: David Whyte

Today

Sabbath is here. Hafiz, the Sufi poet, wrote  this wonderful poem which helps me understand Sabbath more fully. The third stanza speaks to the need to be present in the world. It is each Now that we can testify to the truth. Yet, this truth is always transient, because I recall it later incompletely.

I do not want to step so quickly
over the beautiful line on God’s palm
As I move through earth’s
Marketplace
Today

I do not want to touch any object in this world
Without my eyes testifying to the truth
That everything is
My Beloved

Something has happened
to my understanding of existence
That now always makes my heart full of wonder
and Kindness.

I do not
Want
To step so quickly
Over the sacred place on God’s body
That is right beneath
your own foot

As I dance with
Precious life
Today.

The Opening of Eyes

I spent a great two weeks at home. I concluded my time away with a wonderful weekend in Seattle where I attended a poetry weekend, along with about 150 others, facilitated by David Whyte. A major theme was asking beautiful questions: questions we need to ask that show stories in our lives that are possibly outdated. We open our eyes for what appears to be the first time and there is a renewal.

An important part of beautiful questions is they guide us towards new horizons. We feel grounded by home’s foundations and  drawn forward from that stable place in imaginative ways. There is something spiritual and biblical about this feeling as we find the courage in our hearts to let go in ways we had never imagined possible.

That day I saw beneath dark clouds

the passing light over the water

and I heard the voice of the world speak out,

I knew then, as I had before,

life is no passing memory of what has been

nor the remaining pages of a great book

waiting to be read.

It is the opening of eyes long closed.

It is the vision of far off things

seen for the silence they hold.

It is the heart after years

of secret conversing

speaking out loud in the clear air.

It is Moses in the desert

fallen to his knees before the lit bush.

It is the man throwing away his shoes

as if to enter heaven

and finding himself astonished,

opened at last,

fallen in love with solid ground.

Tilicho Lake

I used to ice fish. I went with others and would catch a few, usually more than others. Once I caught my fill, I lay on the ice and with my head covered watch fish swim past. Different fish move at different paces. Northern pike ease past the hole and whitefish move much quickly. There was never certainty. I did not know if I was going to catch fish and see fish. Some lakes were too deep, but occasionally a fish would come up the hole and catch a breath of air.

I used to feel like I could leave everything behind and just be. It is much like when Kathy and I hike in the mountains. There is a being that does not count on any certainty. It just is. David Whyte wrote this poem. I think the prayer of rough love is just being there, in the moment, and ready for what comes. There is a beauty in that and I think a fearlessness I need to cultivate.

In this high place

it is as simple as this,

Leave everything you know behind.

Step toward the cold surface,

say the old prayer of rough love

and open both arms.

Those who come with empty hands

will stare into the lake astonished,

there, in the cold light

reflecting pure snow,

the true shape of your own face.

Sometimes

I registered to attend David Whyte’s retreat called Poetry in the Woods in November. His poetry speaks to my heart and the retreat is about being in touch with the heart.

I spent considerable time today talking about what I love: teaching and learning. I know I will miss each of them and want them in my life in some form. What I do not want is to be involved in teaching and learning focused on rules and not children. It is important for me as I enter this phase not to assume answers, but to be open to questions, particularly prickly ones. They are the ones I sometimes turn away from. I need to turn to them, receive them, and hold them gently.

I need to let questions find a space to emerge. which suggests less trampling through the forest and more quiet approaches. It is where the wisdom appears from, those questions which need my silence to be heard.

Sometimes

if you move carefully

through the forest,

breathing

like the ones

in the old stories,

who could cross

a shimmering bed of leaves

without a sound,

you come

to a place

whose only task

is to trouble you

with tiny

but frightening requests,

conceived out of nowhere

but in this place

beginning to lead everywhere.

Requests to stop what

you are doing right now.

and

to stop what you

are becoming

while you do it,

questions

that can make

or unmake

a life,

questions

that have patiently

waited for you,

questions

that have no right

to go away.

The Opening of Eyes

David Whyte wrote this wonderful poem and it resonated with me today. We hold considerable wisdom collectively and individually. We each need to open all our senses and be receptive to what we hold. It is in the silence that we learn so much.

Today, only a few students attended. I decided some time ago that our Fridays would be art day due to the low attendance. Students focused on activities and silence reigned. I heard in the silence they want to finish the year positively.

That day I saw beneath dark clouds
the passing light over the water
and I heard the voice of the world speak out,
I knew then, as I had before
life is no passing memory of what has been
nor the remaining pages in a great book
waiting to be read.

It is the opening of eyes long closed.
It is the vision of far off things
seen for the silence they hold.
It is the heart after years
of secret conversing
speaking out loud in the clear air.

It is Moses in the desert
fallen to his knees before the lit bush.
It is the man throwing away his shoes
as if to enter heaven
and finding himself astonished,
opened at last,
fallen in love with solid ground.

The Opening of Eyes

I arrive at the end of another week. It was a quiet week in many ways. Next week includes parent-teacher interviews and will be more hectic. When I reflected, I thought of the Marcel Proust quote: “The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.” I need the quiet and the solitude which allows me to achieve one glimpse at a time.

I found my way to this David Whyte poem which proposed a similar message. The poet echoed Proust in the second stanza. As I open my eyes, my heart and mind open in astonishment as the wonder of silence finds a new world that was always there, a paradox.

That day I saw beneath dark clouds
the passing light over the water
and I heard the voice of the world speak out,
I knew then, as I had before
life is no passing memory of what has been
nor the remaining pages in a great book
waiting to be read.

It is the opening of eyes long closed.
It is the vision of far off things
seen for the silence they hold.
It is the heart after years
of secret conversing
speaking out loud in the clear air.

It is Moses in the desert
fallen to his knees before the lit bush.
It is the man throwing away his shoes
as if to enter heaven
and finding himself astonished,
opened at last,
fallen in love with solid ground.

Working Together

I read and heard about innovation several times over the the past few days. I was professionally developed yesterday and it came up again. The person indicated innovation is half-formed ideas bumping up against each other as we share them. I wondered about that, because it suggests we work together, collaborate, and recognize the interdependent nature of humans and the world they live in together. I rarely see this and I doubt a bureaucratic mindset is one that embraces those features of innovation. I read recently, and I apologize about a lack of reference, that it is not enough to show up. We need to do something when we get there. David Whyte summarized this beautifully in the following poem.

We shape our self
to fit this world
and by the world
are shaped again.
The visible
and the invisible
working together
in common cause,
to produce
the miraculous.
I am thinking of the way
the intangible air
passed at speed
round a shaped wing
easily
holds our weight.
So may we, in this life
trust
to those elements
we have yet to see
or imagine,
and look for the true
shape of our own self
by forming it well
to the great
intangibles about us.
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