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An Observation

We live in paradox in the world. Parker Palmer uses May Sarton‘s poetry in his writing to bring this point to life. It is hard to be sensitive and being gentle requires a certain toughness.

Since I arrived home, I have read more than I have written. In part, I am exploring the aesthetic qualities that life shares with us. There are qualities that allow us to live in the world in ways that we do not bruise or wound the hidden fruit. Yet, we are left with scars in that work  forever making us stronger when we are not wearing gloves. The paradox of life is gives us strength and sureness and, at the same, we are tender and vulnerable.

Teaching, and for that matter any pedagogic work, requires that sensitivity. It is always rough as there is no how-to-manual. We learn this work through the tact and sensitivity of the work itself, reflecting more on what goes well as opposed to what goes well in pedagogic forming. We come to be observant, patient, and see the particular of each situation revealed in the universal.

True gardeners cannot bear a glove
Between the sure touch and the tender root,
Must let their hands grow knotted as they move
With a rough sensitivity about
Under the earth, between the rock and shoot,
Never to bruise or wound the hidden fruit.
And so I watched my mother’s hands grow scarred,
She who could heal the wounded plant or friend
With the same vulnerable yet rigorous love;
I minded once to see her beauty gnarled,
But now her truth is given me to live,
As I learn for myself we must be hard
To move among the tender with an open hand,
And to stay sensitive up to the end
Pay with some toughness for a gentle world.

About ivonprefontaine

I am a retired educator who is currently completing a PhD. Prior to teaching, I worked in private industry for 15 years and returned to university to earn my education degree. For the last 17 years I taught, I was a teacher in a unique, progressive, alternative educational school of choice. Currently, I am engaged in a doctoral program at Gonzaga University in Spokane. My dissertation topic is how teachers experience becoming who they are as teachers, as human subjects.

10 responses »

  1. I love the poem. I won’t wear gloves in my garden either. Blessings, Natalie 🙂

  2. we’re strange symbols
    accepting beauty
    in life
    by appreciating
    wonderful contradictions
    earthly touch

  3. I didn’t wear gloves when I gardened either. This is a beautiful piece of work.

  4. Thank you for following my blog. I like this poem, your mother, her hands connecting the earth, gentle, and gnarled. The lesson is wise.


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