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Author Archives: ivonprefontaine

SOLITUDE

via SOLITUDE

Lara provides wonderful images of her neighbourhood, gardens, and pets. This post is one with a single picture and a Khalil Gibran quote about solitude.

Solitude is not loneliness. Teaching can be a lonely profession often done in solitude, largely away from other adults. I was fortunate. For most of my career, I taught in proximity to other adults and this provided rich conversations and insights for reflection to improve my teaching.

Gibran wrote a poem about children, reminding me students I taught were not my children. My favourite line is “their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow.” As a teacher, I only promised I would do my best to prepare students for tomorrow.

In French, the word retirer means to draw back, like an archer. It is in healthy solitude I gather myself, draw back, and find stability in teaching the next generation.

And a woman who held a babe against her bosom said, Speak to us of Children.

     And he said:

     Your children are not your children.

     They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.

     They come through you but not from you,

     And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

     You may give them your love but not your thoughts,

     For they have their own thoughts.

     You may house their bodies but not their souls,

     For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.

     You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.

     For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

     You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.

     The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite, and He bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far.

     Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness;

     For even as He loves the arrow that flies, so He loves also the bow that is stable.

Where do we find solitude? I find it in Nature, in writing, in reading, in teaching, and in living. It is not a place. It is a relationship to life, others, and things.

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Kathy took this picture in Jasper National Park. The roots of the trees form steps and a path up from the water falls we were visiting.

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Where are you going?

via Where are you going?

Karen uses Alice’s conversation with the Cat from Alice in Wonderland to jump start this internal conversation with one’s self.

It reminded me of how Parker Palmer and Alan Watts describe faith. We are going somewhere, but there is always uncertainty in where we are going. Clinging to certainty adds anxiety as we move forward in life.

As I read this morning, I realized, and I cannot explain why it took so many years to arrive at this point, I often try to imagine the future in precise terms. What I should do is be less precise and imagine the quality of the world I want to inhabit e.g., compassionate, loving, caring, etc. I cannot guarantee it will be so, but I can add my actions in ways that enhance those qualities and the world.

I am re-reading Parker Palmer’s To Know as We Are Known: Education as a Spiritual Journey. He reminds me to live in the world is to understand each person, creature, object, etc. contributes to the world in deep, meaningful ways.

Robson

Several years ago, I took an eco-ethics course and an author described how, as a geologist, he looked at a mountain’s striations and read the story they told. I cannot do that, but I I look at this picture of Mt. Robson and know the mountain is telling me its story.

 

A Pearl from Dietrich Bonhoeffer

via A Pearl from Dietrich Bonhoeffer

David Herbert posted this quote from Dietrich Bonhoeffer in April. Bonhoeffer was executed hours before the end of World War II by the Nazis who held him as a prisoner for about 1.5 years. He is a modern day martyr and opposed the Nazis fromt the time they came to power.

David’s quote is a wonderful insight into how God is not driven by human views, opinions, and ideologies. We each have free choice and will to live in proper ways and to treat the world we live in (we are not separate) with reverence.

Nature, including humans, are gifts given to preserve and conserve in their purest forms.

Daffodils, Lake, and Mountain in Glacier

Of all the pictures I post, this is my favourite. Kathy took the picture as she drove through Glacier National Park in Montana. With the flowers, grass, trees, lake, mountain, snow, clouds, and sky, there is so much of Nature’s in the picture.

Thistle And Bee

via Thistle And Bee

Kenne is a wonderful photography and poet. In this post, he provides beautiful art along with a quote from Alan Watts.

Watts was an early interpreter of Eastern philosophies. In his book, The Wisdom of Insecurity, he distinguishes between faith and beliefs. To have faith, one accepts what comes. According to Watts, we reduce our anxiety. To believe, one fits the world to fit those beliefs.  In this case, we create doctrine and dogma, religious and otherwise, to suit what our beliefs are. We become anxious in our defense of our beliefs.

When we have faith, we accept what comes and we are part of the larger whole. When we have a belief system, we defend it and treat people and things as if they are resources and disposable. Nature is something exploitable and not something to enjoy and protect.

When I look at the picture Kenne shared, I am reminded how each person, being, and thing is somehow intertwined with everything else. The bee depends on the flower and we depend on each of them in particular ways. We treat the thistle as a weed, rather than as a source of food for the bee and the bee’s honey a source of food for us. Without either of them the universe is diminished. As Watts suggested, we have to see and listen with the eyes and ears of the universe to appreciate the universe’s magnifence.

Yellowstone Elk

I took this picture several years ago in Yellowstone National Park. I was about 20 feet away from this elk with my camera and a few trees between him and me. He knew I was there. A moment before he looked at me, seemed to sense I was not a threat and went back to eating. I did not move suddenly and kept my eye on him each moment I was down there.

Dr. Seuss

via Dr. Seuss

Heather offers three Dr. Seuss quotes. I am particularly taken by the third one, which calls on me to step with care and tact.

Regardless of where I am, I am with people, in the world, and in relationships. It is easy to take these for granted. Often, children and youth embrace differences more readily than adults.

Through the use of satire, made up words, and unusual characters, Theodor Geisel took a stand against bullies, hypocrites, and demagogues. I think his characters depict pluralism we live in. Yes, there is no Lorax, Yertle the Turtle, or Cat in the Hat, but we can appreciate and defer to the beauty of their differences. Even within  differences, I find more similarities and common ground with others.

We need this in the world we co-inhabit with other beings, sentient and non-sentient. Too often, people who masquerade as leaders tell us to see difference as problematic, to see Nature as something to exploit, and to separate ourselves from our better angels. Perhaps our better angels are Thing 1 and Thing 2.

298x322 Unique Dr Seuss Images Ideas Dr Seuss Art, Dr

I retrieved this image from Clip Art Mag.

“Whether we and our politicians know it or not, Nature is party to all our deals and decisions, and she has more votes, a longer memory, and a sterner sense of justice than we do.” — Art of Quotation

via “Whether we and our politicians know it or not, Nature is party to all our deals and decisions, and she has more votes, a longer memory, and a sterner sense of justice than we do.” — Art of Quotation

I have been remiss in my blogging lately. It has been busy with moving, building a new house, writing a collaborative scholarly paper, grandchildren on the way, and visiting our one grandson. I plan on being more faithful and maybe doing some writing to go with presses.

Gigi has a wonderful blog filled with quotes, poetry, and images. She shared a Wendell Berry quote to remind me how I am part of nature, not separate.

This post reminded me of something my mother used to tell us growing up: “birds do not spoil their nests.” Ecology and economy share etymology, coming from the Greek oikos. Besides being a Greek yogurt, it means household and how we care for that household. When I think about Nature from this perspective, I want to treat Her well and be in full relationship with Her.

Deer Resting

I took this picture about a year ago, as we walked out of the United Church in Radium Hot Springs, BC. It is wonderful to find one’s self so close to all God’s creatures.

….and Mary Oliver spoke

via ….and Mary Oliver spoke

Udo posted this quote from Mary Oliver‘s poem, The Summer Day. It is my favourite line from all of her wonderful poetry and challenges me to reflect on and act on the purpose and calling of my life’s vocation.

Mary Oliver reminds me life and its many callings are not filled with certainty and fixed paths. Instead, I wander and wonder as I take detours and hope I find my way.

I share this line teaching and presenting, as a reminder life is about unexpected and, sometimes, we have to permit ourselves to stop and experience what we often drive by and take-for-granted.

Robson

On trips to visit in British Columbia, Mt. Robson is a favourite stopping place. The mountain is a sentinal over the valley, with wilderness gems to experience and revel in as I live my one and wild life.

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The waterfalls are located in the Crowsnest Pass. Like Mt. Robson, I gave myself permission to pause and experience being in nature and not just a visitor.

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