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Atavism

I missed posting Saturday. I went to Calgary for the weekend and left my laptop at home.It was a busy weekend and trying to post under the conditions that existed would have added to the busyness. In a sense, I had a two-day sabbath with time away from the computer.

In retrospect, this poem is about looking for home during sabbath time. It is a place where I am with my self, people I am close to, and things that are important in life. It is a journey back to my roots looking for my whoness and whatness that makes me who and what I am.

On the weekend, people talked about the why and how of life a lot. I consider the why circular suggesting there is an answer to questions about who and what we are. How is a question about constructing something and does not speak to how we are always being and becoming. It is in quiet moments even when we wander, retreat, and get lost that we tap into our essence which is our isness, our whoness and whatness. William Stafford wrote elsewhere about just standing still and listening which is what we have to do to find ourselves.

Sometimes in the open you look up
where birds go by, or just nothing,
and wait. A dim feeling comes
you were like this once, there was air,
and quiet; it was by a lake, or
maybe a river you were alert
as an otter and were suddenly born
like the evening star into wide
still worlds like this one you have found
again, for a moment, in the open.

Something is being told in the woods: aisles of
shadow lead away; a branch waves;
a pencil of sunlight slowly travels its
path. A withheld presence almost
speaks, but then retreats, rustles
a patch of brush. You can feel
the centuries ripple generations
of wandering, discovering, being lost
and found, eating, dying, being born.
A walk through the forest strokes your fur,
the fur you no longer have. And your gaze
down a forest aisle is a strange, long
plunge, dark eyes looking for home.
For delicious minutes you can feel your whiskers
wider than your mind, away out over everything.

Little Rooms

There are always special places in life. They are places where we can be. William Stafford called those places little rooms. Our little rooms provide views in the world revealing what and who is important. Time drifts and we reach out to what and who is important in life.

The little rooms are mindful places where life beckons coming alive in the each moment’s richness. We are more aware of each moment in encountering them fully.

I rock high in the oak–secure, big branches–
at home while darkness comes. It gets lonely up here
as lights needle forth below, through airy space.
Tinkling dish washing noises drift up, and a faint
smooth gush of air through leaves, cool evening
moving out over the earth. Our town leans farther
away, and I ride through the arch toward midnight,
holding on, listening, hearing deep roots grow.

There are rooms in a life, apart from others, rich
with whatever happens, a glimpse of moon, a breeze.
You who come years from now to this brief spell
of nothing that was mine: the open, slow passing
of time was a gift going by. I have put my hand out
on the mane of the wind, like this, to give it to you.

A Ritual to Read to Each Other

People quite often have views of the world and people that are fixed. We become observers and outsiders separate from the life we live in a sense.

William Stafford‘s poem offers another approach. We read our lives as stories to each other and share in the living. This is important in leading, which we are all able to do. In a sense, reading life is leading, learning, and teaching in the world we co-inhabit.

If you don’t know the kind of person I am
and I don’t know the kind of person you are
a pattern that others made may prevail in the world
and following the wrong god home we may miss our star.

For there is many a small betrayal in the mind,
a shrug that lets the fragile sequence break
sending with shouts the horrible errors of childhood
storming out to play through the broken dyke.

And as elephants parade holding each elephant’s tail,
but if one wanders the circus won’t find the park,
I call it cruel and maybe the root of all cruelty
to know what occurs but not recognize the fact.

And so I appeal to a voice, to something shadowy,
a remote important region in all who talk:
though we could fool each other, we should consider–
lest the parade of our mutual life get lost in the dark.

For it is important that awake people be awake,
or a breaking line may discourage them back to sleep;
the signals we give–yes or no, or maybe–
should be clear: the darkness around us is deep.

The Way it Is

I chose this poem by William Stafford after comments I shared with David at The Dad Poet about poets we enjoyed. Those are not short lists. David reminded me of William Stafford who writes in both a simple and complex way as well. He tells us with simplicity that there is a thread that connects us all and to all things.

More importantly, perhaps, it connects us to our self. We cannot describe it. We know it is there and by holding on life unfolds the way it should without us knowing exactly what that means. The connections to others provide safety and love that we know there are people, places, and spaces to turn towards during the more difficult moments.

There’s a thread that you follow. It goes among

things that change. But it doesn’t change.

People wonder about what you are pursuing.

You have to explain about this thread.

But it is hard for others to see.

While you hold it you can’t get lost.

Tragedies happen; people get hurt

or die; and you suffer and get old.

Nothing you can stop unfolding.

You don’t ever let go of the thread.

A Ritual to Read to Each Other

I finished my first weekend of classes today. An emphasis is respectful dialogue in ways that honour the other person. In this way, we to listen and not think of our next response. Perhaps, reaction is a better way of understanding that thinking process.

We critique our work in the group. For example, we share our dissertation statements and, as we are in the early stages of writing, they are a little rough around the edges at times. We try set aside the emotional attachment we form with our work so we can listen to the voices offering help.

William Stafford wrote this poem and the last stanza is profound. When we listen deeply, we move out of the darkness more easily towards the stars we seek.

If you don’t know the kind of person I am

and I don’t know the kind of person you are

a pattern that others made may prevail in the world

and following the wrong god home we may miss our star.

For there is many a small betrayal in the mind,

a shrug that lets the fragile sequence break

sending with shouts the horrible errors of childhood

storming out to play through the broken dyke.

And as elephants parade holding each elephant’s tail,

but if one wanders the circus won’t find the park,

I call it cruel and maybe the root of all cruelty

to know what occurs but not recognize the fact.

And so I appeal to a voice, to something shadowy,

a remote important region in all who talk:

through we could fool each other, we should consider–

lest the parade of our mutual life get lost in the dark.

For it is important that awake people be awake,

or a breaking the line may discourage them back to sleep;

the signals we give–yes or no, or maybe–

should be clear: the darkness around us is deep.

Shepherd

I have a three-week break and will head home for a couple of weeks on Monday, so will be offline for a couple of days. It is a longer sabbath than normal, but it will be a long day on Monday. The wanderer is going from thought country and will find his way home as William Stafford suggested in this poem. We are each shepherded home in some fashion, at some time.

According to the silence, winter has arrived—

a special kind of winter. I, its inventor,

watch it freeze in calendars and stare

out of clocks. I do not feel its cold.

Across a certain farm evening crows go flying,

intervals of the sky that I have seen before,

the bearing of a river. I advance, a wanderer

out of thought country, that serious quiet place,

Till according to the silence all the light is gone

and according to the dark all wanderers are home.

Vocation

I re-read Parker Palmer‘s Let Your Life Speak. It is the one time of the day I don’t take notes I just read. Last night, I began Dietrich Bonhoeffer‘s Life Together.

Parker Palmer wrote about the shared etymological roots of vocation and voice. William Stafford expressed a similar message. We find our way through life as we make meaning out of life. It comes with the good and the not so good which sometimes, when we look back in the rear view mirror, we realize the reverse is true.

I am reading on my dissertation topic: curriculum and technology use. I chose a couple of books which say the same thing about schooling and it would be a radical departure. Education is about conversations, integrates roles of teacher, student, and subject. We find our stories, our voices, and our calling in life in and through circles of conversation. Here we let the silence speak as well. It is a mindful way to live and requires our full attention.

This dream the world is having about itself
includes a trace on the plains of the Oregon trail,
a groove in the grass my father showed us all
one day while meadowlarks were trying to tell
something better about to happen.

I dreamed the trace to the mountains, over the hills,
and there a girl who belonged wherever she was.
But then my mother called us back to the car:
she was afraid; she always blamed the place,
the time, anything my father planned.

Now both of my parents, the long line through the plain,
the meadowlarks, the sky, the world’s whole dream
remain, and I hear him say while I stand between the two,
helpless, both of them part of me:
“Your job is to find what the world is trying to be.”

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