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Monthly Archives: May 2014

Sound of many Left Hands clapping

Originally posted on smilecalm:
birthday bath pedals ~d nelson ? I’m the sound of one hand clapping deeply peaceful in near silence. Among a cohort of other one-hands clapping calm thickly absorbing into concentration at any moment bursting into insightful rose pedals of colors. in my heart singing there comes a time when kids of all…

“I’ve learned …

The other day I received an email from a former student. The final comment about people remembering how people make us feel was the message in the email. John Dewey argued that teachers created spaces, I would say hospitable spaces, where students felt good and comfortable learning, including making mistakes. It was not about what was taught and about the relationships emerging in those spaces. Classrooms should provide a feeling of safety and security even when things are not going well. Maya Angelou’s words make this point.


Expect Nothing

Alice Walker is well-known for her novel The Color Purple. I don’t read a lot of fiction, but I her writing is an exception. I did not realize she wrote poetry and found this wonderful poem.

Living frugally on surprise is a wonderful suggestion. The universe is a place of wonder and awe which invites us to look again at its beauty, depth, and wisdom. We often look past the ordinary where the wonder and awe are hidden in plain sight. Being attentive allows us to encounter the universe and all its phenomena, sentient and non-sentient, fully.

By taking available compassion sparingly, is itself an act of compassion. We care for our self and leave for others who will be in need. In taking it, we stop short of feeling sorry for ourselves and understand disappointment is fleeting as are other emotions.


Expect nothing. Live frugally
On surprise.
become a stranger
To need of pity
Or, if compassion be freely
Given out
Take only enough
Stop short of urge to plead
Then purge away the need.

Wish for nothing larger
Than your own small heart
Or greater than a star;
Tame wild disappointment
With caress unmoved and cold
Make of it a parka
For your soul.

Discover the reason why
So tiny human midget
Exists at all
So scared unwise
But expect nothing. Live frugally
On surprise.

Washington Irving And I~ Tears

Vulnerability is the hallmark of strength. Admitting we are wrong, hurt, seek forgiveness, etc. is challenging. It calls upon us to look inward and embrace our vulnerability as we ask others to accept it, as well.

Simple Pleasures

photos from camera 746-001zz

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By Maya

And, Maya Angelous’ poetry and writing made me feel like I could make a difference in the world.

why I feed the birds

Richard Vargas’ poem reminded me of one I posted sometime ago called Birdfoot’s Grandpa. We each have those idiosyncratic things that make us who we are. We might save frogs, feed birds, serve meals in a shelter, etc. It is in those moments which are largely unexplainable, but clearly visible that we become who we are.

Something that stood out for me in both poems was the role elders played in the lives of others. Our grandparents and parents do things that we do not understand in the given moment. It is only years later as we experience our roles as parents, grandparents, and pedagogues that we come to understand what it might have meant.

When we take time and make the world a better place, we add something no one else can. In that addition, the world does become better. It is rarely in the large and overtly obvious things, but in the small, less obvious contributions that the world shifts from ordinary to extraordinary. It is giving without any certainty and hope of a return. We do it because it is who we are in our particular humanness which is always being and becoming in relationship with the universe.

And, it make a difference to birds, to frogs, and people in need when we add to the world without expecting return. In those moments, they are small gods in our lives. Those offerings make a difference in our lives without awareness of their importance. They add to our lives enriching them and making them fuller.

i saw my grandmother hold out
her hand cupping a small offering
of seed to one of the wild sparrows
that frequented the bird bath she
filled with fresh water every day

she stood still
maybe stopped breathing
while the sparrow looked
at her, then the seed
then back as if he was
judging her character

he jumped into her hand
began to eat
she smiled

a woman holding
a small god

The mystery of the unknown; the wonder and ecstasy that it brings….

There is a always mystery in the universe. We are surrounded by it and it calls to us to engage in it. It is not a search for certainty, but a welcoming that certainty is itself uncertain. However, that does not prevent us from being in awe of the certainty of uncertainty. We can always find a place in that wonder.


The sky is full of the sun and the stars
The universe is full of life
Among all these I have found a place
And in wonder and amazement I sing.
The world is swayed
By eternity’s rushing tide
Rising and falling
I have felt its tug in my blood
Racing through my veins
And in wonder and amazement I sing.
While walking in the woodlands
With my feet I have touched the blades of grass
I have been startled by the flowers’ fragrance
They have all maddened my mind
The gifts of gladness and joy
Are strewn all around
And in wonder and amazement I sing.
I have pricked my ears
I have opened my eyes
I have bared my heart to the world
In the midst of the known
I have sought the unknown
And in wonder and amazement I sing

-Rabindranath Tagore
(Rabindranath Tagore was a Bengali…

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Wednesday Poetry Corner: Featuring Sue Lobo

Wednesday Poetry Corner: Featuring Sue Lobo

This poem was a tribute for mothers on Mother’s Day, but it is a tribute any day. It is a reminder of how the maternal instincts we all possess to a certain extent contribute to a better world. We tend to children and the world through those instincts.

Niamh Clune

Sue Lobo has submitted a beautiful poem about MOTHER from the perspective of Africa’s mothers. Don’t forget to send in your poem. There is still time!


by Sue Lobo


Your face etched upon old cave walls,

Your smile painted by a million suns,

Your laughter echoes through eon’s halls,

Your legacy to Africa´s daughters & sons.

Water pot carried upon your head,

Baby strapped tight to your warm back,

Feet plodding, cracked as drought & hard as lead,

Carrying all you own in old hessian sack.

You search, you carry, you sow, you reap,

You walk for miles seeking food & herbs,

You smile, but inside you eternally weep,

You tell your secrets only to beast & birds.

As the spider, you weave strong web of silk,

Uniting your continent in a colourful quilt,

Backbone of…

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Variation on a Theme by Rilke

Denise Levertov wrote mystical poetry which applied to daily her life. Her poetry contains qualities similar to Rilke who explored life through the spaces provided in poetry. In a sense, poetry acts as a form of Sabbath.

We read poetry’s words and the silence. In the latter, the former come to life asking questions of our whole self. There is no answer in the strictest sense. What emerges in the silence are new questions and as Rilke said, “We live into the questions.”

The silent spaces are important as they enrich the active moments of life. In those silent spaces, we become present in life which confronts us as a sword striking shoulder sending us honorably forward fulfilling life’s tasks and believing we can.

A certain day became a presence to me;
there it was, confronting me–a sky, air, light:
a being. And before it started to descend
from the height of noon, it leaned over
and struck my shoulder as if with
the flat of a sword, granting me
honor and a task. The day’s blow
rang out, metallic–or it was I, a bell awakened,
and what I heard was my whole self
saying and singing what it knew: I can.

Today’s Quote

The other day I blogged a poem from Lao Tzu which carried the same message. Confucius and Lao Tzu did not appear to live at the same time, but Lao Tzu contributed to Confucius’ thinking. We begin the process of order internationally and it slowly ripples outwards as it takes hold first with us.

Soul Gatherings

heart on fire

To put the world right in order,
we must first put the nation in order;
to put the nation in order,
we must first put the family in order;
to put the family in order,
we must first cultivate our personal life;
to cultivate our personal life,
we must first set our hearts right.

~ Confucius ~

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