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Tilicho Lake

I used to ice fish. I went with others and would catch a few, usually more than others. Once I caught my fill, I lay on the ice and with my head covered watch fish swim past. Different fish move at different paces. Northern pike ease past the hole and whitefish move much quickly. There was never certainty. I did not know if I was going to catch fish and see fish. Some lakes were too deep, but occasionally a fish would come up the hole and catch a breath of air.

I used to feel like I could leave everything behind and just be. It is much like when Kathy and I hike in the mountains. There is a being that does not count on any certainty. It just is. David Whyte wrote this poem. I think the prayer of rough love is just being there, in the moment, and ready for what comes. There is a beauty in that and I think a fearlessness I need to cultivate.

In this high place

it is as simple as this,

Leave everything you know behind.

Step toward the cold surface,

say the old prayer of rough love

and open both arms.

Those who come with empty hands

will stare into the lake astonished,

there, in the cold light

reflecting pure snow,

the true shape of your own face.


About ivonprefontaine

In keeping with bell hooks and Noam Chomsky, I consider myself a public and dissident intellectual. Part of my work is to move beyond (transcend) institutional dogmas that bind me to defend freedom, raising my voice to be heard on behalf of those who seek equity and justice in all their forms. I completed my PhD in Philosophy of Leadership Studies at Gonzaga University, Spokane, WA. My dissertation and research was how teachers experience becoming teachers and their role as leaders. I focus on leading, communicating, and innovating in organizations. This includes mindfuful servant-leadership, World Cafe events, Appreciative Inquiry, and expressing one's self through creativity. I offer retreats, workshops, and presentations that can be tailored to your organzations specific needs. I published peer reviewed articles about schools as learning organizations, currere as an ethical pursuit, and hope as an essential element of adult eductaion. I published three poems and am currently preparing my poetry to publish as an anthology of poetry. I present on mindful leadership, servant leadership, schools as learning organizations, how teachers experience becoming teachers, assessement, and critical thinking. I facilitate mindfulness, hospitality retreats. and World Cafe Events using Appreciative Inquiry. I am writing and researching about various forms of leadership, how teachers inform and form their identity as a particular teacher, schools as learning organizations, hope and its anticipatory relationship with the future, and hope as an essential element in learning.

16 responses »

  1. I am always so moved my your poetry Ivon – thank you.

  2. I have never fished but I am told part of the attraction is it allows people to just “be”.

  3. Serenity is glazed over your entire piece! Wonderful ! Faithfully Debbie

  4. I think we are calm in the wilderness not because we leave behind the murmurings of civilization but because we still the murmurings in our own head.

  5. In all my 32 years of living on a lake and sometimes ice fishing on it, it never occurred to me to place my face over the hole and check out what was underneath! Wish now I had tried this!

  6. ahh the prayer of rough love .. thanks for the reminder via David Whyte.


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