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Limen

Some days, I sit and watch, listen, and sense the wonders of the world around me. Within these wonders, things and people invite me to remember things embedded within nature and in my life. The extraordinary emerges from the ordinary. Often, I overlook what and who is important in my life, who give and gave me unconditional support.

Natasha Trethewey shared this wonderful poem about the unobserved industry that goes on around me. It is not just busy industry. I focus on a particular calling in life. I find my voice in the work. For humans, there is a multiplicity in the work and the way it shapes life. Similar to the woodpecker, it seems I look for the gifts I overlook. There is more embedded in life than just hanging laundry and other obvious tasks I undertake. When I attend and am present, the barely perceptible–the liminal– is visible, heard, and fully sensed.

All day I’ve listened to the industry

of a single woodpecker, worrying the catalpa tree

just outside my window. Hard at his task,

his body is a hinge, a door knocker

to the cluttered house of memory in which

I can almost see my mother’s face.

She is here, beyond the tree,

its slender pods and heart-shaped leaves,

hanging wet sheets on the line–each one

a thin white screen between between us. So insistent

is this woodpecker, I’m sure he must be

looking for something else–not simply

the beetles and grubs inside, but some other gift

the tree might hold. All day he’s been at work,

tireless, making the green hearts flutter.

Dharma

The way the world and the universe are in order is something we take for granted in daily life. We overlook the ordinary, but there is importance layered in the ordinary. It is here we find the extraordinary. We come and go and, when we pay attention, so much is revealed about the world and the way we help create it.

Billy Collins shared a common, everyday way to examine the patterns of life, the Dharma of the world we live with all the time by examining a dog and the way she lives life without worrying about life.

The way the dog trots out the front door
every morning
without a hat or an umbrella,
without any money
or the keys to her dog house
never fails to fill the saucer of my heart
with milky admiration.

Who provides a finer example
of a life without encumbrance—
Thoreau in his curtainless hut
with a single plate, a single spoon?
Ghandi with his staff and his holy diapers?

Off she goes into the material world
with nothing but her brown coat
and her modest blue collar,
following only her wet nose,
the twin portals of her steady breathing,
followed only by the plume of her tail.

If only she did not shove the cat aside
every morning
and eat all his food
what a model of self-containment she would be,
what a paragon of earthly detachment.
If only she were not so eager
for a rub behind the ears,
so acrobatic in her welcomes,
if only I were not her god.

Being a Bee

I commented on How to Land about Eco Ethics. The underlying principle is deep ecology which shifts us from an environmental anthropocentric and views all living beings as having inherent worth and not merely instrumental value. Deep ecology understand a complex interdependence between all living beings and allows that to guide decision-making. We are part of the Earth and not holding dominion over it in this sense. We can make similar decisions about harvesting, mining, and building as we do but use numerous perspectives in doing so.

James Hatley wrote, The Uncanny Goodness of Being Edible to Bears. He referred to hunters, outdoors people, and survivors of bear attacks. People, who are deep ecologists, revere Nature and understand the risks of entering wilderness. Their view is Nature and what it holds makes us more human and complete, as we are one with Nature and not separate.

I wrote this poem as one way to better understand the concept myself.

Am I more than the sum of parts?

More than just a body, a mind, a spirit?

If so, what role might the bee play?

The one who manufactured honey?

The one I so enjoyed with bread today.

Is he or she part of me?

Or, is there even more to it than that?

What about the clover?

The water and other things used in delectable manufacture?

Can I now take that Bee’s perspective?

Ever so fleetingly,

Does it make a difference?

Might it be a lesson in being more human?

Letting the Bee be part of me?

The Uses of Not

I wrote about paradox in Warrior’s Quest and part of the motivating force was this poem. It takes real courage to accept paradox and hold the tension. The hole in the whole completes the whole.

Thirty spokes

meet in the hub.

Where the wheel isn’t

is where it’s useful.

Hollowed out,

clay makes the pot.

Where the pot’s not

is where it’s useful.

Cut doors and windows

to make a room.

Where the room isn’t

there’s room for you.

So the profit in what is

is in the use of what isn’t.

Lao Tzu

From Teaching a Stone to Talk

Annie Dillard is a wonderful writer whose prose has a great poetic quality. Her words ask me to find quiet and solitude provided on the Sabbath. In that quiet, I go deeper and seek peace among the turmoil.

“In the deeps are the violence and terror of which psychology has warned us. But if we ride these monsters deeper down, if you drop them further over the world’s rim, you find what our sciences cannot locate or name, the substrate, the ocean or matrix or ether which buoys the test, which gives goodness its power for good, and evil its power for evil, the unified field: our complex and inexplicable caring for each other, and for our life together here. It is given. It is not learned.”

Take care and see you Monday.

It Is I Who Must Begin – Vaclav Havel

I made a promise coming into the school year. I would keep my head, do only what I can, and not flounder. I won’t let things get me down. I find solace in writing, nature, with Kathy, and in reading poetry. Some days I just open a book and find a poem which speaks to me in such a clear voice I think the poet stands or sits across from me sharing their words. That is what happened with this poem by Vaclav Havel.

It is I who must begin,

Once I begin, once I try—

here and now,

right where I am,

not excusing myself

by saying that things

would be easier elsewhere,

without grand speeches and

ostentatious gestures,

but all the more persistently

—to live in harmony

with the “voice of Being,” as I

understand it within myself

—as soon as I begin that,

I suddenly discover,

to my surprise, that

I am neither the only one,

nor the first,

nor the most important one

to have set out upon the road.

Whether all is really lost

or not depends entirely on

whether or not I am lost.

Metamorphosis

I struggled today. Starbucks’ Internet was intermittent and my day was cleaved in half with an appointment. I reflected on what my blogging and there has been a substantial change in the tone and voice of the blogger. When I began, I was doing it for all the wrong reasons and was driven from ego. Transformation is about my self and not about what goes on outside me.

I influence the world and as Gandhi wisely said, “Be the change you want to see in the world” is important.

Change

Occupies an idle mind.

Denies, oppresses

Another self.

Transform

Inner terrain.

Who is this self?

What life does this self live?

Mature

Through life.

Define

the self who lives this life.

Emerge

from chrysalis each day.

Present

A thoughtful gift

Transform my self.

Reveal through selfless acts

Flourish beyond rhetoric

Beyond fad.

Journey with others

Appreciate

Valorize.

ivonprefontaine:

I think this is a thought-provoking question. It is possible conversation, like community, is in the midst of being redefined, but we should take care and retain the intimacy each brings into our lives. I felt a  kinship as I read this posting. Kathy and I, after almost 40 years, try to find time for each other. We always made time, and continue to do so, for each other. It is what makes a relationship healthy.

Originally posted on Broadside:

Talking in the evening. Porto Covo, Portugal

Talking in the evening. Porto Covo, Portugal (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This recent think-piece in The New York Times argues that we have:

At home, families sit together, texting and reading e-mail. At work executives text during board meetings. We text (and shop and go on Facebook) during classes and when we’re on dates…

We’ve become accustomed to a new way of being “alone together.” Technology-enabled, we are able to be with one another, and also elsewhere, connected to wherever we want to be. We want to customize our lives. We want to move in and out of where we are because the thing we value most is control over where we focus our attention. We have gotten used to the idea of being in a tribe of one, loyal to our own party.

One of the rituals my husband and I enjoy is my driving him to the commuter train station in the morning. It’s only about 10 minutes…

View original 443 more words

And A Second One Showed Up

Really, it was not me unless…

Some days you just have to have some fun!

Godly Play: A Setting for Eloquent Questions?

A question was posed about the role of eloquent questions and how they might apply to the concept of Godly Play. I chose to flesh out my thinking on eloquent questions in that context. Eloquent questions lead inquiry into what is important within a community and  shared by a community, big or small. Access to the wisdom of past generations gained through questions posed by members of a group. Gadamer in Truth and Method suggested the prudence and eloquence derived from eloquent questions “gives the human will its direction, is the concrete universality represented by the community of a group, a people, a nation. … [Therefore, its] youth demands images for its imagination and for forming its memory.”

I am not expert on the concept of Godly Play, but the questions posed by children in that setting could be understood as eloquent questions. Eloquence, as it relates to language, suggests capacity to articulate questions about those things that are important and people are curious about in their lives. Yes, it could mean being persuasive and convincing, but I think as it applies to inquiry, eloquence has to do with articulating questions crucial to the existence and survival of the group. With this curiosity and wonder, children participating in Godly Play are encouraged to ask wondering questions and are provided with open-ended response time. This last description suggests there is time to consider answers and, over time, to reconsider them.

Gadamer proposed that prejudice guides understanding, but we are aware of the prejudice and the role it plays in understanding. An open-minded stance allows people  awareness of their prejudices or personal agendas and not be attached to them. We stay open to accepting new evidence and there is a constant maturing of views and understanding of the world. This stance brings to mind the Buddhist concept of the Beginner’s Mind which Senryu Suzuki defined as “in the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities.” Children benefit from the beginner’s mind and constantly seek to make sense of the world while remaining open to the many possibilities the emerging world holds for them.

This openness and questioning stance leads to the prudence or wisdom that is important to the existence of the group, not only in its present form, but recognizable with each ensuing generation. St. Thomas Aquinas considered prudence in this sense as benevolent and based upon a supernatural good. The community hopes that the children, through their inquiry, will gain the prudence and wisdom to sustain the community through the rhetoric and the words they speak and the intent of their actions. Prudence is not driven by self-interest. That is deceit and cunning. Prudence takes the form of actions that would be well-intended and for the greater good.

Although I lack in-depth expertise in both eloquent questions and Godly Play, Godly Play does seem to encourage children to ask eloquent questions to better understand their community and grow with their community in a prudent way.

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