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Monthly Archives: July 2012

Sabbath’s Circle

Have a great 23rd of July, 2012.

A virtuous circle

Begins at the end

Ends at the beginning.

A source of refuge

Moments of discovery within

No urgency

Besides just breathing.

Just be

With all nature’s cycles

Brings wholeness

Sabbath liberates.

I find life events are increasingly filled with synchronicity. When I posted the poem Auditory Illusion, I had listened to a thunderstorm chase itself in and out of the Spokane area. It thundered overhead, moved off, and returned several times circling in and out of the area for about an hour. After the post, I reflected on life’s circularity as it is and scribbled some thoughts down before going to bed last night.

I heard the rain differently than it was. It sounded like the storm was over, yet, when I got up, it was raining hard. The eaves of the building had tempered the sound. Today, in Wayne Muller’s Sabbath, he wrote about the etymological roots of the words absurd and obedient. Absurd is from the Latin surdus which means deaf and obedient from the Latin to listen. Yesterday, listening or mislistening to the storm and its intensity reminded me of the frequency I misunderstand parts of life and its relationships. Wayne Muller was friend of Henri Nouwen and said he was “a fiercely astute observer of our worried, overfilled lives [and that] … the noise of our lives made us deaf, unable to hear when we are called, or from which direction” (p. 84). I am commited to daily moments of silence and a weekly Sabbath to help me listen when called.

Wayne Muller concludes each short chapter with a brief reflection for Sabbath. The chapter Let it Be is also the title of my favourite Beatles’ songs. Today, the reflection was from Brother David Steindl-Rast an Austrian monk.

“Let the silence drop like a pebble right into the middle of the day and send its ripples out over its surface in ever-widening circles” (p. 86).

Muller, W. (1999). Sabbath: Restoring the sacred rhythm of rest. New York: Bantam Books.

The Auditory Ilusion

Drops of water

No rhythm

Fall from eaves.

Seemingly,

Out of tune

An orchestra warms ups

Occasionally, silence breaks out.

The aftermath

Thunder chased itself in and out

Lightning lit the mid-day sky.

Now, a steady rain

With a different view

More than sound

More than intermittent drops

From the protected, artificial eave.

When I laid down, an afternoon thunderstorm had just started to move into the area. I listened and it sounded quite different from what I saw when I got up. Now, I am up on the fifth floor, or the penthouse, so it might sound quite different at street level.

I wonder what other illusions we have based on position and perspective on life?

Haiku Haven

Last year, I found I was tired and often in pain and began to look for ways to deal with these issues. Cautiously, I examined the concept of meditation and a mindful practice. This morphed into more, as I began to read about the topics and I completed an individual and directed study as part of my doctoral process. I am provided with an opportunity to explore the self who teaches and lives this life during these quiet moments. I discovered a need for a mindful life, where I was fully present and meditation serves me well.

Each morning, I get up and begin my day with a quiet, mindful space:

Each morning’s practice

I fall awake into day

Embrace the calmness.

Most days, I walk to the local coffee shop where everybody knows my name and continue my practice. Even in the noise of the place, I mindfully read and drink my tea. Part of it is the walk.

With each of life’s steps

Earth receives me graciously

And we become one.

Each afternoon, I try lay down for an hour. I rarely sleep. My neck and shoulders ache and they are asking for a break. I focus on my breath and let thoughts flow by on my stream of consciousness.

Embodied mind speaks

Rest the mind and body

Take refuge, sabbath.

Take care and have a great 21st of July, 2012.

An Angry Young Poet

Each year, I spend time on poetry with the students. Two years ago, a student asked if I wrote poetry in junior high school and I was able to say, “Yes!”. He asked me to share with them. I found them in a small lock box I keep at home and shared several with the class.

I mentioned in Culture of Peace Sam Intrator. He suggested teachers expose adolescent students complex, existential questions of life as they move through those formative years. I wrote my poems in about 1969. It was a time when identity was increasingly rooted in the global nature of the world, not just immediate community and family. War, even in Canada, entered our homes via television. I found voice in poetry and expressed an abhorrence to institutional and government approved murder. What set me apart from my peers, was I took no sides. Each was equally wrong in my mind. Mr. McKenzie, an innovative English teacher, encouraged that in us-find our voices.

I shared the following poem with my students. I concede it is not exactly the original, as it was pretty angry. I hope the original message is still there. Students asked for more poems and I complied. These past few months I rediscovered my poet’s voice. It is a gentler voice, I hope.

Win or Lose: What Difference Does it Make?

 One game

If it is one

No fun to lose

No great thing to win.

War!

Hollow

Men, women, children gone

In no time

Woe! The vanquished losers;

No winner

Each, vanquished in every sense.

Divided

In ruins

Rebuilding

On countless graves

Rudderless.

Without pride

Beggaring citizens

Values of others

Resenting conquerors

What does war bring?

No jobs

No hospitals

No schools

No homes, but the streets

Destruction everywhere.

What does war bring?

Death of innocence

Loss even in victory

Comrades fallen

But see an enemy vanquished.

Killing

Proving nothing

What fools

Going on forever

Will we learn?

We must

I pray

For human survival.

Take care and have a great 20th of July, 2012.

Canadians Enjoying the American Pastime

We have not been to a baseball game for several years. Edmonton lost its AAA team, The Trappers, several years ago. They won a Pacific Coast League championship one season. A friend invited us to a game between the Spokane Indians and the Yakima Bears. The teams play in the Single A Northwest League. Both teams are affiliated to major league teams-the Indians to the Texas Rangers and the Bears to the Arizona Diamondbacks.  The crowd was about 7, 000. I thought it would be much smaller at this level of ball, but the stadium was full and the crowd cheered despite the home team falling 4-1 on the scoreboard. Here are some pictures to share.

This is what we go to the games for. Right? This is the real full meal deal.

The Indians have three mascots and her name is Doris.

Look I think the ump needs help with his vision. Do you have anything bigger?

If you look really close, you will see the baseball is by the K on the yellow sign. The runner was out on the play with a great pick off.

Did you ever wonder what these guys talk about? I do. I doubt it is even about baseball. #45 has a picture of his little boy or girl out and he is showing it to the rest of the guys. Or the ump just told a joke. #12 (I think that is his number) is laughing, “Good one, Blue! Listen, I got a better one!”

This is Otto. He was the original mascot.

Take care and have a great 18th of July.

Culture of Peace

Each child has a voice

In a secure space

Voices are revealed.

I am reading Tuned in and fired up: How teaching can inspire real learning in the classroom by Sam Intrator. It is the published version of his doctoral dissertation so I read it out of a twofold interest: as a teacher and as someone getting ready for the dissertation process. Sam asks teachers to consider the following question: “What engages children in learning?” That was the focus of his study and he found an innovative teacher, Mr. Quinn, who lived up to the challenge.

Mr. Quinn was studying Cannery Row by John Steinbeck, but found the students were not enjoying the early part of the book. He took them outside to the ball diamond, had them select a small patch of ground, and spread out from their classmates. Mr. Quinn asked students to observe, collect data, and write about a 1 foot by 1 foot (30 cm by 30 cm) patch of grass. They were to try see the world as a poet-scientist and find their way to describe their small ecosystem. Despite initial grumbling, the students became engaged and wrote poetry, reflective journals, and connected that patch to their lives in many ways. For many, it was the highlight of their learning that year.

In Grade 8 Social Studies, I found an activity in the Teacher Resource Manual called A Culture of Peace. This activity engages students and brings out even the voice of those who generally choose not speak up. This is one of those activities with no right or wrong answer.

First we discuss a Culture of War, which by the standards of the day should be easy to do, but an interesting thing happens. About 10-15 minutes into this discussion, students run out of descriptors for a culture of war or they repeat what has already been said. I record comments on the whiteboard and say, “It is time for a change of pace. What are some descriptors for a Culture of Peace?” I fill up a whiteboard with student responses. They are so engaged they know when they are duplicating previous responses. They are listening intently to each other. The shy, reluctant students engage in the conversation, because they feel no risk of being wrong.

The first time we did this we had to stop after an hour because we were borrowing another classroom and the teacher needed it back. When we walked out of the classroom to return to our classroom, one of the boys turned to a friend and said, “I could do this all day.” As a teacher, I felt like I was on Cloud 9. I look forward to this activity each year. The students and I become engaged in our learning.

Question: What was one learning experience that engaged you fully and made learning worthwhile and so memorable to be vividly recalled years later?

One Lovely Blog Award

I was nominated for a One Lovely Blog Award today by The Blazing Trail. to whom I say Thank you and appreciate the recognition.

I need to share 7 things about myself that you still may not know about me:

1. I played college ice hockey.

2. I attended university four times at four different universities.

3. I have 6 siblings-a sister and five brothers.

4. I visited the World Fair in Spokane Washington in 1974.

5. I was a banker for almost 15 years before leaving and going back to university.

6. I am 22nd generation Canadian or thereabouts.

7. I collect stamps.

I am nominating 15 bloggers:

Nominate 15 bloggers.

Cathy’s Voice Now

Meanwhile Melody Muses

RC Gale

Mike’s Look at Life

Brian Gaynor’s Photography

Coco J Ginger Says

RodPosse

Clotilda Jam Cracker

Elizabeth’s Ramblings

Simon Marsh

iamzion

Wallpaper-Tadaka

lijiun

slappsshotblog

Doli Photo

I’m Tired, I’m Whipped by Nevin Compton Trammell

I spent a great day on Sunday. I read, had a major nap which caused me to struggle sleeping last night, and spent time with friends doing pizza. I was completely disconnected. It is in these moments I find my voice.

I’m tired

I’m whipped

too dumb to quit

too smart

to let life go by

I’m working hard

to find truth

in my own backyard

I’ve done everything

but die

Took the long way around

on a short ride to town

found a pass

where few have been

Gained a love

lost a friend

scraped my knees

learning to please

started out

with no choice

somewhere

somehow

found my

voice.

It is a journey; not a destination. Take care and have a great 17th of July.

In My Haste to Post I Forgot the Title

It was an interesting day. In the midst of it, Parker Palmer posted a poem by Wendell Berry on Facebook. It is a special day when Parker posts a poem by Wendell Berry, Mary Oliver, or himself. The poem was How to Be a Poet (to remind myself). Wendell Berry is low tech and uses a typewriter to craft his words. Parker pointed to an aspect of the poem’s message: “Shun electric wire/Communicate slowly/Live a three-dimensional life.”The slow of life is worth something. It lets us be the person we are most fully.

Later, I began to think about two songs by two artists I enjoy and have seen multiple times live. Guy Clark sings The Carpenter and John Wort Hannam sings With the Grain. Both songs are rich with the metaphors of living a three-dimensional life. It is no coincidence the topic is that of a carpenter in both cases. It is about true to one’s self and living a life with value.

Sabbath

Silence, solitude, sacred

A mountain’s strength

The sky’s expanse

A lake mirrors

Words of wisdom

Spoken so softly.

Disconnect to reconnect

Listen that silent sacred space

The inner teacher beckons

Be present

Wisdom revealed

Let it heal, repair

A single thread at a time

The web of life so fragile.

Questions emerge

Hold gently

Live their mystery

They answer only when ready

Until then they lie dormant

Ready when ready

Embrace life as it is.

I salute you and take my leave for a few hours. Have a wonderful 16th of July.

Gratitude

The last few days I passed 500 likes, 250 follows, and am approaching 200 posts. It is hard to believe. In March I had a handful of likes, about 10 followers, and posted intermittently. Blogging is a virtuous circle. It is humbling. Is anyone reading? It is statistically irrelevant. But, once you get into a rhythm it is uplifting and life honouring.

Part of my growth was and remains a supportive community, but we do not see each other face-to-face. Community involves sharing in ways that show the soul of people. I am grateful to find a place where I can do just that

I thank each of you who takes time, reads, and responds. You helped bring transformation in my life as a blogger, learner, and a person.

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