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Welcoming Differences

I wrote this poem in SeaTac airport in Seattle waiting for my flight I had about 6 hours so there was considerable time to reflect. I make a point of scheduling reflection time into my routine and, when blocks of time emerge reflect, I take advantage of them. Reflecting on what happened and what we aspire to are essential to a well-lived life.

This poem emerged from a conversation about leadership allowing the uncomfortable to reveal itself in conversations. Jacques Derrida may have concluded being uncomfortable is admitting the strange into one’s life and the moment. There is a risk of danger and rejection, steeped in possible hospitality towards of one another and acceptance.

With patience and humility, I can welcome and listen in what Martin Buber referred to as an I-Thou encounter, not an I-it encounter where I diminish and objectify the Other a a thing. As noted in Gentle Rain, when we encounter someone, even briefly, we grow and add a little of each other to our selves. As humans, we are more alike than different. This is lost in the highly politicized rhetoric where purported leaders pit us against one another, dividing and highlighting differences for the sake of conquering.


Conversing fully;

Making the world anew,

Healing through listening–

Welcoming uncomfortableness.

Information prevailing–

Supplanting heart’s courage;

Its wisdom,

Sensing the common–

Common sense.

Awakening, pausing, observing–

Emerging from hibernating;

Welcoming that which is different,


Completing unfinished circles.

Piecing together peace–

Filling voids;

Voicing the silenced,

Heralding life–

Each voice rejoicing.

Making ones’ self whole–

Accompanied by others;

Joining hands and hearts,

Belonging to each other–

Fulfilling humanness.

I took this picture as we travelled through Glacier National Park. At the time, I just took it. Later, as I read about deep ecology, I learned geologists look at the strata in a mountain as chapters in the mountain’s story. For me, this is much like how we each have our unique stories brought together both in what makes us unique and what we hold in common.


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.

18 responses »

  1. The thing that keeps coming up in my life is the importance of carving out a chunk of time and a place EACH DAY to shut off the noise and take time to listen. Listen for God’s voice and for my own. Also, the importance of not always feeling I had to be able to answer questions or be able to debate topics, as important as that may be. But love expressed simply by “Rejoicing with those who rejoice and mourning with those who mourn. ” (Romans 12)
    These themes permeate your poem and many other things as well. It amazes me that there seems to be little in it that is “filler”. Each line was full of good stuff. I suspect it goes way beyond six hours at SeaTac for pondering and is the result of a lifetime of experiences (most of them hard) and the ability to extrapolate wisdom from them.
    Your pondering motivates me to do the same. Thank you for sharing, Ivon.
    Sincerely, LL

    • I agree Laura-Lee. The challenge is finding time. And, it is essential to listen for a voice beyond who we are. In Western Judeo-Christian society that is God. In other cultures, it takes on other forms but is still there.

      Jacques Derrida, who I refer to in the post, was born in Algeria (a Muslim country), lived his adult life in France (a Christian country), and was a secular Jew. A great influence on his writing was Emanuelle Levinas who was a leading Talmudic scholar who lived in France. Both of their works are permeated with Abrahamic and Ibrahamic tradition around hospitality and inviting the stranger in for shelter and food.

      For me, Mom and Memere were influences who continue to inform who I am. My PhD was taken at a Jesuit school and there are many Catholics who think the Jesuits are too far out there on social justice.

      You are welcome. Take care and be well.

      • It’s interesting to be able to learn more from and about someone you’ve known your whole life. It is evident that your knowledge on any topic is very far-reaching. Even though higher education wasn’t always available to our older generations (Mom had to quit school in grade 10 to go to work) they NEVER let the lack of one opportunity stop or hinder them from finding another opportunity. They let their experiences and faith lead them to wisdom which is essential in discerning the truth they ultimately sought. God bless them all!
        But here we remain, for now, doing the best we can with “the measure of faith given us” and “examining ourselves with sober judgment” (Roman 12).
        On a bit of a side note. Many of the references you make to various people and topics are unknown to me and I appreciate you taking the time to make them links so I can jump there and learn more about them. I do realize that adding links to a blog can be finicky and time-consuming, but that’s why you’re “The Man”, so to speak. I also appreciate you refraining from correcting my horrendous grammar 😵 which is probably sorely tempting as a teacher (and transformer.)
        Until next time, most sincerely, Laura-Lee 🙋🏻‍♀️

      • Mom used to ask who I would rather be lost with, someone who read about it or someone who had no formal education and had lived it. Formal education is only a part, and too often an ignored part, of our over all education. Both Mom and Dad did not have high school educations, but were smart people in their own right. Kathy’s mom had about a Grade 1 education, but ran a farm better than most. I used her practices as examples of animal husbandry and selective breeding in my Science c;lasses.

        A student I had struggled with her writing. She wrote wonderful poetry, so I suggested that might be a way to help with her note taking. It worked.

  2. I especially love these lines Ivon, extraordinary reflection of where the needs of the world came in contact with your heart. Lovely, C


    Completing unfinished circles.

    Piecing together peace–

    Filling voids;

    Voicing the silenced,

    Heralding life–

    Each voice rejoicing.

  3. Thanks for sharing Smile It is a great day


    On Thu, Aug 27, 2020 at 5:33 AM Teacher as Transformer wrote:

    > ivonprefontaine posted: “I wrote this poem in SeaTac airport in Seattle > waiting for my flight I had about 6 hours so there was considerable time to > reflect. I make a point of scheduling reflection time into my routine and, > when blocks of time emerge reflect, I take advantage of t” >

  4. I love all the peace-filled and hopeful do-ing words in your poetry — you make love-ing more present to us. I see that you have read/studied many philosophers. I’m not sure I would truly understand the differences between branches of philosophy, but I am very sure that Jesuits have helped to form our Catholic consciences on social justice. I don’t understand how Catholics can’t see that Jesus’ new commandment is geared 100% to social justice! Anyway, thank you for all your work, your art, your sharing, and for the lovely photos.

    • Thank you for a lovely comment. I think the various schools of philosphy flow together, overlapping in some ways and contradicting themselves in other ways.

      I agree. The Jesuits have provided me with a different way of engaging the world. It helps to see the world through a prism of how much we are the same, rather than one of stark and absolute differences.

  5. Reblogged this on By the Mighty Mumford and commented:

  6. I like your poem, a lot!

  7. Pingback: Do Pigs Have Udders? | Teacher as Transformer

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