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Category Archives: Blogging

A Book Lover’s Tag

via A BOOK LOVER’S TAG 

Diana passed on a tag and posed 13 questions to her followers with this re-blog. The best part of the her post was the John O’Donohue blessing about how our words make the invisible visible through our personal artistry and creativity.

  1. Do you have a favourite place to read? No, I read everywhere but in vehicles.
  2. Do you use bookmarks or random pieces of paper? I use both and more. I turn corners, highlight, and use sticky notes with notes.
  3. Do you eat or drink while you read? I drink tea, but rarely ever eat while I read.
  4. Do you listen to music or watch TV? There always seems to be music playing, but I find the TV distracting. Music fades into the background.
  5. Do you read one book or several at a time? I do both. I find reading one book helps me focus, but I cannot help reading more books.
  6. Do you prefer reading at home or elsewhere? There is a small coffee shop a few minutes from the house. The baristas and owners welcome me almost each day.
  7. Do you read silently or out loud? I read silently most of the time, but, when I read something of particular interest, I read it to Kathy. I enjoy reading to our grandson when we visit with him.
  8. Do you read ahead or skip about? I skip about. I like to read the index in a book and see who references are if it is a book I use for my writing. I cheat and read ahead in non-fiction.
  9. Do you break the spine or treat it like new? I buy many of my books used, so they come well used. If I get a new book, I mark it up inside, but treat it like new.
  10. Do you write in books? I mark them up with a felt marker and make notes for future reference. The exception is when I read non-fiction and poetry.
  11. What books are you reading now? I am reading The Company of Strangers by Parker Palmer.
  12. What is your childhood favourite book? I don’t have one, but I remember reading Little Golden Books and having them read to me as a special part of my early reading.
  13. What is your favourite book of all time? That is like choosing who my favourite child is. I think it depends on mood and time. I enjoy great poetry i.e. Mary Oliver and Wendell Berry. I read books about spirituality i.e. Parker Palmer. I read about education i.e. William Pinar, John Dewey, and Madeline Grumet. I read about philosophy i.e. Aristotle, Hannah Arendt, and Paul Ricoeur. My favourite fiction writers are John D. MacDonald and Paulo Coehlo.

 

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Take a Knee

I begin this post with two points. First, I am not American. I spend time in the US and enjoy my time there. One thing I enjoy, and I shared with my students, is the way Americans respond to their National Anthem. Second, Canada, where I live, has social and historical skeletons in the closet i.e. residential schools.

My aim is not to pass judgment, but to cast a different light on what it means to take a knee. In a world that is increasingly secular, perhaps I lose my way in what it means to live in a spiritual way and it can mean many things to different people.

The image that comes to mind when I think of is people kneeling and standing at the foot of the cross of the crucified Jesus. We were not there, but we are told his friends, family members, and followers knelt and stood. It seems there was no one right way.

When Colin Kaepernick first took a knee, I thought of it as praying. The etymology of prayer is to ask earnestly, to beg, and to entreat. Prayer is asking someone i.e. God or something bigger i.e. Universe or a nation than I am to intercede in a concern to me.

To genuflect is to kneel, usually with one knee. It is an act of worship and respect. Parker Palmer wrote about fidelity as something other than mere loyalty. It is loyalty to an obligation, cause, and idea one holds dear.

Who or what one asks depends on one’s spiritual and religious background. What I understand is that there are no fixed answers when I take a knee and pray. I have to listen. Part of praying is silence, listening to what Parker Palmer calls my inner voice. It is only in moments of silence, whether kneeling, standing, or walking, that I hear that inner voice.

I pray in various ways and have since I was a child. When I enter a church, I find holy water, bow to the cross, and complete the sign of the cross. I stand. As I enter a pew I genuflect, taking a knee. I do so with two surgically repaired knees. At times before, during, and after service, I kneel, I pray, and I listen to what my heart says. Other times, I stand. During the Lord’s prayer, I stand and join hands with others asking God to intercede on each of our behalf. As I receive communion, I walk slowly and quietly, bowing my head as I accept the host.

For me, kneeling, standing, and walking quietly show my fidelity to a cause and purpose larger than me. In this case, it is plight of people and our shared humanity. I make a point of being quiet, because it is a time of thoughtful meditation and mindfulness of how the world and I are broken. I beseech someone or something larger than me to intercede and, as Parker Palmer says, to make whole the broken.

 

 

Merry Christmas

I grew up in Northern Alberta and Christmas was a special time of the year. I recall cold winter nights. I mean they were cold–almost minus 40 at night. Our windows upstairs were partly frosted over and on moonlit nights the light kept me awake or that is what I told others.

During Advent, my mom and older brothers walked across the street for evening Mass. The younger ones, including me, went to bed. I did not fall asleep right away and would watch out the window for them to come home. I thought no one saw me, but my Mom would come up and tell me to go to bed.

The other experience I recall is the Northern Lights and how you could hear them as they lit up the sky. We don’t see them very often in Edmonton with the urban light. When we spent time at the farm at Christmas, we heard and saw them there. Again, on cold nights we heard the train (about a mile away) and it sounded like it was coming right through the house.

I wrote this poem several years ago about the magic provided by the Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis) and Christmas. What message was in those celestial colours and sounds? As a child, I thought the sky talked to me and told me a creation story.

Small children–

Breathlessly wait,

Peer through frosted window

Soak it in.

Heavens ripple–

Lights undulate;

A celebratory fury

An indisputable guide.

This old house speaks;

Nature answers–

The heavens crackle

Sweet symphonic sounds shimmer.

Earth’s floor–

Blanketed in white

Celestial colours speak to me

Captures young senses.

A vivid winter scene,

A sensual, sensory palette,

Reminds me–

Christ’s Mass is here.

pic_wonder_northern_lights_lg

“The Good Samaritan” by French artist Maximilien Luce (1858-1941)

Photo post by @georgebost.

Source: “The Good Samaritan” by French artist Maximilien Luce (1858-1941)

I enjoy this parable. It should raise questions about what I do for others and how, when I do right , my life is enriched. It is a spiritual richeness that can make each day Christmas, rather than one day a year.

Several years ago, I heard a sermon that explained how the first two people who passed by may have felt they had to do so based on their understanding of certain laws. The Samaritan did not feel he was and stopped to care for someone in need.

Look deep…

**Images found on Pinterest

Source: Look deep…

Natalie shared an Einstein quote about looking deep into nature if we want to understand the world and people better. It does not mean we will understand them completely, just better and that is not a given.

Better is an incomplete process. There is always something to be experienced and learned about nature. It keeps telling us its story in ways that we cannot completely understand.

When we experience nature, it is about being mindful and attentive to it. We experience it more fully when we understand we are part of nature, as opposed to outside of it.

ON HOW TO PICK AND EAT POEMS

Phyllis Cole-Dai wrote this wonderful poem that offers so much advice about how to live life more fully. When I stand still and just am in the moment, it is there that I can live most fully. Poems grow there and, just like finding something wonderful in nature, we can bow to it as we read it and let it soak in.

Stop whatever it is you’re doing.
Come down from the attic.
Grab a bucket or a basket and head for light.
That’s where the best poems grow, and in the dappled dark.

Go slow. Watch out for thorns and bears.
When you find a good bush, bow to it, or take off your shoes.
Then pluck. This poem. That poem. Any poem.
It should come off the stem easy, just a little tickle.
No need to sniff first, judge the color, test the firmness.
You’ll only know it’s ripe if you taste.

So put a poem upon your lips. Chew its pulp.
Let its juice spill over your tongue.
Let your reading of it teach you
what sort of creature you are
and the nature of the ground you walk upon.
Bring your whole life out loud to this one poem.
Eating one poem can save you, if you’re hungry enough.

When birds and deer beat you to your favorite patch,
smile at their familiar appetite, and ramble on.
Somewhere another crop waits for harvest.
And if your eye should ever light upon a cluster of poems
hanging on a single stem, cup your hand around them
and pull, without greed or clinging.
Some will slip off in your palm.
None will go to waste.

Take those you adore poem-picking when you can,
even to the wild and hidden places.
Reach into brambles for their sake,
stain your skin some shade of red or blue,
mash words against your teeth, for love.
And always leave some poems within easy reach
for the next picker, in kinship with the unknown.

If you ever carry away more than you need,
go on home to your kitchen, and make good jam.
No need to rush, the poems will keep.
Some will even taste better with age,
a rich batch of preserves.

Store up jars and jars of jam. Plenty for friends.
Plenty for the long, howling winter. Plenty for strangers.
Plenty for all the bread in this broken world.

An Appalachian Wedding

This is my first post since getting back at it. It has been a great few months. I did not go far from my computer, but my efforts focused on dissertation writing. That is off the table for about a month as the committee members read and offer feedback. When that is done, I hope to be into research.

Thomas Berry was a Catholic priest and environmentalist who wrote the book The Dream of the Earth. He approached his environmentalism in a very holistic manner, incorporating a variety of traditions: Judeo-Christian, Eastern philosophies, and Indigenous people.

I feel that many people have moved away from the holistic relationship they subjectively and objectively engage in the world/ universe. We are not separate but part of a complex dynamic that is always incomplete and unpredictable.

Look up at the sky
the heavens so blue
the sun so radiant
the clouds so playful
the soaring raptors
woodland creatures
meadows in bloom
rivers singing their
way to the sea
wolfsong on the land
whalesong in the sea
celebration everywhere
wild, riotous
immense as a monsoon
lifting an ocean of joy
then spilling it down over
the Appalachian landscape
drenching us all
in a deluge of delight
as we open our arms and
rush toward each other
all of us moved by that vast
compassionate curve
that brings all things together
in intimate celebration
celebration that is
the universe itself.

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