Today, as I read Father Richard Rohr, I wondered about the closing of ranks around particular ideologies rather than opening up to the diversity of thoughts. He provided no particular quote in his reflection piece, but did make a reference to the need for prophets and an openness to diversity indicating this need had been with us for thousands of years.
Monthly Archives: January 2013
I started on the academic work last night. I was productive as I tracked down some books that I have in my library and added to the library with a book order.
Yesterday, we began our poetry unit at school. I enjoy it and I think, for the most part, the students do as well. They grumble a bit, but, when they start writing they are laughing. We wrote limericks. I wander around the room, talk my way through limericks, and write one or two down on the board. It is mostly off the top of my head and they are fairly rough, but the students get a charge out of it and realize not to take it too seriously. I wrote these two on the board and decided to share.
There once was a boy named Earl
He wanted so desperately to be a squirrel.
Allergic to nuts, his dreams were dashed.
Distressed he wailed and his teeth he gnashed
That young fellow named Earl.
There once was a boy who loved basketball
Three-pointers were his downfall.
He went to shooting school
There he did rule
Today, he has fame and is in the Hall.
Joseph Campbell is a treasure trove of deep and insightful quotes. My mom would always tell us words to this effect when we were growing up. I have stayed up all night several times hoping to confirm that the darkest moment is really before the dawn.
I enjoy Einstein’s remarkable way of looking at the world. We do need goals and they are the fuel that moves us ahead, but without people close to us we cannot accomplish those goals.
Today, I scooped an article entitled “Why Questions Are More Important Than Answers.” I added a short piece: “Questions keep us moving. Answers end conversations and their messages.”
Being present and mindful exposes the extraordinary on life’s canvas. I ask only to be astonished with eloquent questions which I am unable to answer, because the next question reveals itself playfully in front of me; again to go unanswered.
I love Mary Oliver‘s poetry and this poem resonated today.
My work is loving the world.
Here the sunflowers, there the hummingbird —
equal seekers of sweetness.
Here the quickening yeast; there the blue plums.
Here the clam deep in the speckled sand.
Are my boots old? Is my coat torn?
Am I no longer young, and still not half-perfect? Let me
keep my mind on what matters,
which is my work,
which is mostly standing still and learning to be
The phoebe, the delphinium.
The sheep in the pasture, and the pasture.
Which is mostly rejoicing, since all ingredients are here,
which is gratitude, to be given a mind and a heart
and these body-clothes,
a mouth with which to give shouts of joy
to the moth and the wren, to the sleepy dug-up clam,
telling them all, over and over, how it is
that we live forever.
This haiku came into my life about a year ago. Frequently, I stand in my own way and fail to see the world through new eyes. I need to let go of my preconceived notions to make sense of and see the world more completely in this moment.
Barn’s burnt down —
I can see the moon.
-Mizuta Masahide (水田 正秀?, 1657–1723)
(Winter Moon over Farm Field – Jill Battaglia)
My dear friend sent me this quote when one of the slates of my life was being wiped clean. When I read the words of this tiny poem then, I saw the barn as my marriage and the definition of my life that I had held up to that time.
Now, a year and a half later, I see more. This poem is actually quite large.
I see now: I am the barn. I am blocking the moon. And I am burning down!
I know I am repeating myself from other blog posts, here, but I sense that I am getting this same burning realization over and over again, on finer and finer levels, until there is nothing to talk about anymore. Do the fingers just go silent at some…
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I will change my routine week and post less often. I need to work on my dissertation topic. I want to enroll in the proposal seminar in June. If not, it will be next fall. I need to begin to set the table for the next part of life’s journey.
Today, I commented in an online forum about the state of public education. Another commentator asked, “Is there no hope for real change in the schools of America?” I am not American and cannot answer that specific question from where I sit. Instead, I answered, “I do have hope and, more importantly, I have faith that we can make the necessary changes despite the obstacles. What do we want for our children and grandchildren? This seems like the question we need to ask. Does change offer a sustainable future, not for me, but for future generations in an unimaginable, complex, and chaotic world? This need for real, flexible, and sustainable change reminded me of Margaret Mead: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”
I found this beautiful poem by Brazilian poet Rubin Alves. He spoke of hope, but not hope as a soft and gentle aspect of life, but hope matched with suffering and resiliency which gives rise change and the hoped. I particularly enjoyed: “So let us plant dates/even though we who plant them will never eat them./We must live by the love of what we will never see.”
What is hope?
It is the pre-sentiment that imagination
is more real and reality is less real than it looks.
It is the hunch that the overwhelming brutality
of facts that oppress and repress us
is not the last word.
It is the suspicion that reality is more complex
than the realists want us to believe.
That the frontiers of the possible are not
determined by the limits of the actual;
and in a miraculous and unexplained way
life is opening up creative events
which will open the way to freedom and resurrection –
but the two – suffering and hope
must live from each other.
Suffering without hope produces resentment and despair.
But, hope without suffering creates illusions, naïveté
So let us plant dates
even though we who plant them will never eat them.
We must live by the love of what we will never see.
That is the secret discipline.
It is the refusal to let our creative act
be dissolved away by our need for immediate sense experience
and is a struggled commitment to the future of our grandchildren.
Such disciplined hope is what has given prophets, revolutionaries and saints,
the courage to die for the future they envisage.
They make their own bodies the seed of their highest hopes.
I tweeted this out last night and commented, “It could be the end of day rays embracing us” or words to that affect. But, I could not pass up on this as a beginning of day re-blog with a beautiful image and wonderful little poem to greet the day.
When Kathy and I decided I would teach one more year, I wanted to make it the best year possible. I tired last year, was in physical pain, and it was difficult to be there for students as I wanted. I examined my life as Socrates suggested. I realized I focused on things I had little or no control over which is unlike me. I knew I wanted this year to be different and I worked hard the first 1/2 of the year in that respect. I remind myself I can only do what I am capable of doing. I stopped planning and organizing that which is not plannable or organizable and take a breath now and then. I choose to accept my life as it unfolds and as I author it in this moment. I owe this to the students and their families who support them and me.
Mark Nepo reminded me today of this as I read this beautiful poem.
Yes, it is true. I confess,
I have thought great thoughts,
and sung great songs—all of it
rehearsal for the majesty
of being held.
The dream is awakened
when thinking I love you
and life begins
when saying I love you
and joy moves like blood
when embracing others with love.
My efforts now turn
from trying to outrun suffering
to accepting love wherever
I can find it.
Stripped of causes and plans
and things to strive for,
I have discovered everything
I could need or ask for
is right here—
in flawed abundance.
We cannot eliminate hunger,
but we can feed each other.
We cannot eliminate loneliness,
but we can hold each other.
We cannot eliminate pain,
but we can live a life
we are small living things
awakened in the stream,
not gods who carve out rivers.
Like human fish,
we are asked to experience
meaning in the life that moves
through the gill of our heart.
There is nothing to do
and nowhere to go.
we can do everything
and go anywhere.
This quote reminded me of the new Margaret Wheatley book, So Far From Home. We each have a small contribution we can make to the world and its sustainable future. Some of it is opening our eyes, heart, and mind to the reality of this moment we live in. Another is preparing our children to live life moment by moment and do the best they can to build relationships with each other and the world.
“I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; and because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do something that I can do.” ~ Helen Keller