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Friendship

Octavio Paz wrote this short poem which despite its length I read it in several ways. The poem raises more questions than it answers. Perhaps, he wrote about sleep, a lover, or night itself? Whatever it is, this friendship embraces without being named.

Maybe in sleep this friendship arrives only to be brushed aside as we awake in the morning. Or, is it the waiting for this friendship that makes it more worthwhile? When we are mindful and attentive in living, it pokes through and rewards us with momentary glimpses that are so rewarding.

It is the awaited hour
Over the table falls
Interminably
The lamp’s spread hair
Night turns the window to immensity
There is no one here
Presence without name surrounds me

Dialogue

Dialogue.

The linked poem uses the word nature in an ambiguous and lovely way. Perhaps, we want to know our nature? Or, is it that we wait for nature to reveal itself more fully to us?

When we wait quietly and listen deeply, we hear the questions which are essential to dialogue. It is in the quiet we hear.

Eliminating the Horizon

We need boundaries. They create structure in our lives. Having said this, I think Linda Nemec Foster asks a great question, “Who needs boundaries?” Can we close our eyes and imagine where the earth ends and the sky begins? Or, where the stream wanders it disappears from our sight?

Many years ago, Kathy and I camped with friends at Quesnel Lake, a beautiful and isolated glacially-fed lake, in central British Columbia.

There is a waterfall, named Niagara Falls, that flows into the east end of the lake.They are 30-40 metres high and narrow. As we approached the falls, we cut the boat motor and heard them thundering from about 1 km away.

We chatted and wondered about the waterfalls’ source. We arrived at a consensus is small lake at the base of a distant mountain fed Niagara Creek. I imagined what that looked like as we climbed to where the falls cascaded over the edge. There was a mountain in the distance which seemed to confirm our guess, but our view – our horizon – was obscured.

That evening, as we sat around the fire, we pulled maps out and found the river did not seem to be lake-fed, but just began at the base of a mountain. Today, I see different possibilities in my mind’s eye. It might be glacial fed, spring fed, or emerge from an unmarked, small lake.

When we close our eyes, we imagine what is beyond the boundaries and their limits. We move past horizons as our imaginations lead the way. There are no lines there.

Who needs boundaries?

If your eyes fail to imagine

where the earth ends and the sky

begins, think of a place bereft

of lines: the blue depths of a stream

flowing like hair that will never

be combed. Deep indigo of nothing

but fluid memory ebbing around

blossoms of white asters. “I remember

how flowers feel when you barely

touch them,” says the water. Like leaving

one world and embracing another:

seeds bursting into wildflowers,

clouds changing into rain,

the image of our borders

a mere outline the soul ignores.

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.

Peace is With us Today

Peace is With us Today.

I had an Einstein poster in my classroom. My students referred to him as my dad, because I told a student, who did recognize him, he was my dad. When another student questioned me, I pointed out we had wild hair, facial foliage, and eccentric behaviors.

I enjoy Einstein, because his quotes reveal important insights. In this one, peace is something we offer and gain through mutual understanding.

I am using Jurgen Habermas, Hans-Georg Gadamer, Parker Palmer, etc. in my dissertation. I find important intersections in their work as they stress conversation, communication, and mutual understanding as integral to living peacefully in the world. It does not mean agreement, but suggests we can accept different ways of experiencing the world that allows for non-violent disagreement. We see what the Other holds true in their living as not very different from what we hold true.

RUMI

RUMI.

As Rumi suggested, perhaps we look in the wrong places. When we pause and take time, we can sense where we are being called to look.

It is like an old country song which suggested we are looking in all the wrong places.

Part Two X: The Machine Endangers All We Have Made

Rilke suggested we live the questions now and someday we might live our way into the answers. This poem raises the question about what he meant by the Machine. He capitalized it suggesting it has been given a privileged place in the world.

Does the Machine eat away at our humanness and humanity? Mindfulness allows us to be present, living in the moment, and possibly living our way to answers. Perhaps, this gives us our humanness and humanity even when we do not have the words to express the mystery involved.

The Machine endangers all we have made.

We allow it to rule instead of obey.

To build a house, cut the stone sharp and fast:
the carver’s hand takes too long to feel its way.

The Machine never hesitates, or we might escape
and its factories subside into silence.
It thinks it’s alive and does everything better.
With equal resolve it creates and destroys.

But life holds mystery for us yet. In a hundred places
we can still sense the source: a play of pure powers
that — when you feel it — brings you to your knees.

There are yet words that come near the unsayable,
and, from crumbling stones, a new music
to make a sacred dwelling in a place we cannot own.

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