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When I saw this post several weeks ago, Mary Oliver’s name got my attention. I have followed Bela for several years and her poetry reminds me of Mary Oliver and her poetry.

Nature surrounds us, engufls us, yet many humans act as if we are separate from Nature and have command over it. What the last few years should show us is we do not control Nature. As I watch the increase in catastrophic weather events and the pandemic we are in midst of, I better understand how taking care of nature takes care of the human family.

The line that stood out for me in Bela’s poem was “human encroachment into nesting areas, refusual to admit error in bulldozing sacred spaces for profit.” Not only did the poem remind me of Mary Oliver and her poetry, it reminded me of John Prine and his song Paradise.

As Mary Oliver says in the following poem and Bela signals in her poem, humans have a place in the family of things. To think otherwise is foolhardy.

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about your despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting —
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

I leave you with John Prine’s words about bulldozing mountain tops to find those last seams of coal, all for profit.


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.

17 responses »

  1. Unfortunately, most people are only concerned about how they can make a profit. They don’t take time to enjoy the people in their lives or their surroundings. In John Prine’s song, I thought Paradise was well captured in the picture of father and son sitting on the banks of the river looking at those beautiful mountains filled with coal.

  2. I really enjoyed this tribute to nature and our earth, Ivon, and this is one of my favorite Mary Oliver poems.

  3. Thanks for sharing. In our winter it gives hope and an alternative escape- knowing that sharing fills the heart with positivity.

    On Thu, 17 Jun 2021 at 2:22 am, Teacher as Transformer wrote:

    > ivonprefontaine posted: ” When I saw this post several weeks ago, Mary > Oliver’s name got my attention. I have followed Bela for several years and > her poetry reminds me of Mary Oliver and her poetry. Nature surrounds us, > engufls us, yet many humans act as if we are separate fr” >

  4. Ivon, thank you for mentioning me and my poem, and to compare me with one of my favorite poets is a deep honor. Thanks again. Do you know, I cannot listen to Prine’s Paradise without weeping, every. single. time. After all these years. And forget singing it! Gosh, what a powerful song. Blessings. ❤

    • Bela, you captured the poetic moment and provided an opporunity for to bring two of my favourite artists togethr at one time. We saw John Prine live a couple of times and he was a tremendous, engaging the audience with his humour and wisdom. I used to play Paradise for my students when we talked about the environments. It is such a moving song on so many levels.

      • Omg, and in the times he wrote it, it seemed humanity was Just. Waking. Up. On some sort of scale, though ‘we’ have far to go. Such a poignant body of work, Prine’s. His ‘Hello in There’ also brings me to my knees. He truly saw beyond the milky veil so many erect around their greater vision.

        Peace. ❤

      • I agree. He had a prophetic vision. The last time we saw him he did “Hole in Daddy’s Arm” to undescore the miseries of war and how the harm done was more than just physical.

      • So so powerful, that music! you are naming another one of my favorites of his. ‘Sweet songs never last too long on broken radios’ … oof.

    • PS Bela, you gave me a chance to vent a bit. Thank you.

  5. By the bye, you do know of Vandana Shiva’s work? Her take on the rape of nature for profit is poignant and straight to the point.

    • This is a new name for me and I just added it to my list. Right now, I am reading Gustavo Guiterrez and Paul Farmer around their work in liberation theology, health care, and perferential options for the poor. There work would also speak to how we commodify Nature and use it for profit. It is one of the legacies of “trickle down economics,” which simply benefits the 1%.

  6. Pingback: An Expression of Gratitude — | Teacher as Transformer

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