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The Real Work

I was laid up for the last few days. I have allergies and this time of the year is always a challenge. I think I picked up a bug to give me a double-whammy. I slept a good part of Friday and Saturday and, on Sunday, was upright for most of the day.

I am not sure if I will post later. While sitting upright and not doing much else on Sunday, this Wendell Berry poem kept poking at me.

Living is paradoxical. Parker Palmer described how this creates tension in living. Just as we think everything is as it should be, something pokes at us and unsettles us, calling on us to begin our real work and commencing the real journey. Being mindful and attentive remind us to be still and look below the surface of what is happening.

It may be that when we no longer know what to do
we have come our real work,

and that when we no longer know which way to go
we have come to our real journey.

The mind that is not baffled is not employed.

The impeded stream is the one that sings.

This is Athabasca Falls. The river upstream is quite wide and as it comes around the corner suddenly narrows. In Wendell Berry’s poem, it is impeded and creates a great force that carves out solid granite.

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Silence of Poetry

Current shares the same etymological roots as curriculum: currere.

How we make meaning of living is like the spaces between words in a poem. It is in silence that meaning emerges. It flows between the words and stanzas.

We need silence in our lives to find meaning. It is standing on the edge of a mountain lake without others. There is a peace there.

“We are all visitors to this time, this place. We are just passing through. Our purpose here is to observe, to learn, to grow, to love… and then we return home.” Aboriginal Proverb

Living is a text,

Traveling through time and space,

Leaving others to ponder meaning;

A meaning that is never whole.

Engulfed in silence,

Emerging from a peace(ful) moment,

One’s inner voice speaks;

As if an other speaks.

Wrapped in meditative moments

When silence is a poem,

Bringing the text to life;

Sending it on its way again.

 

This is a small lake we walked to in Glacier National Park.

Eloquence of Ambiguity

Language matters. Yesterday, I read a post on an educational blog. Essentially, the person argued that “data driven education” was stupid and education was “child driven.” I accept children make choices about what they learn. As a teacher, I used data, including their choices, to inform how I taught.

What I understood demeaned anyone who spoke differently than this person. It is in pluralism and diversity the essence of eloquent ambiguity that we appreciate the world and receive gifts.

Most people accept a world that is grey and their language appreciates the eloquence of ambiguity. Language has a way of fixing things as if they were more permanent. It is the capacity of humans to interpret and re-interpret that brings forth the elegance of the world.

Appreciate the world as it is

It does not arrive pre-packaged.

Embrace uncertainty and ambiguity

Let its eloquence emerge.

Open your heart

Receive unimaginable beauty.

There are no pat answers

Only an internal compass that guides you.

This is a path in Waterton Lakes National Park. A person only sees a short distance ahead when walking a path. What comes next is uncertain.

Driftwood

I am back. The retreat was enjoyable and tiring. Although it was called a retreat, it was different in the sense that it involved research, writing, and lots of conversation. I find retreats invigorating. They are not sit, listen, and try taking notes as a speaker blasts through their presentation.

Retreats have a conversational part. Parker Palmer counsels people at his retreats not to take notes. Instead, we spend time writing and conversing how we feel about various prompts. That was a purpose of this retreat. It is the Currere Exchange.

Currere is the etymological root of curriculum, meaning to run the course of one’s life. It is a subjective way of interpreting a planned curriculum in a school. Whether teachers understand it or not, they are doing this continuously. As one of my co-researchers told me we make decisions about what to teach and leave things out we really like.

In a sense, currere is polishing a planned curriculum. It is a multi-faceted and complicated conversation between a person (re)membering their lived-experiences, aspire to a particular way of teaching in the future, and synthesize those two moments into the present. Each moment acts as a curriculum to inform the other, complicating one’s teaching in a dialogic way. Others enter the classroom and add to the complicated nature of the conversation, each adding their curriculum to the dialogue. It is like a piece of driftwood, being polished by the forces it comes in contact with.

My story being polished,

I (re)member and imagine;

Washed up on a new shore,

Who I am reflected anew.

I am a character in my story,

I pause a moment,

Noting lustre and matte,

Interpreting new meanings.

Soaking in the contours of living,

Experiencing new awakenings,

Running the course of my life,

Each new moment polishing me afresh.

Kathy took this picture in Waterton Lakes National Park.

 

Watch your Language

I finished the retreat today. Teaching is inspiring others to want to learn. It does not replace the responsiblity for learning. Essential to inspiring is communicating with students, listening to them in caring and sensitive ways. At its greatest, teaching reminds me of the Buddhist proverb: “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.”

Find Your Middle Ground

toshogu monkeys

I recall being reminded as I was growing up, and then again as an employee, how important it was to watch my language and to think before speaking.

However, in social media, and at the highest level of US government, this doesn’t seem to apply. Not thinking before speaking and readily making judgmental comments about people behind their backs, appears to be acceptable.

It makes me wonder “Are we becoming a society where gossip is okay?” and “Are you being drawn into this too?”

Let us all remind ourselves to THINK before we speak, post or email. Whether we are making a presentation, interacting with colleagues or chatting with friends, its important to remember this acronym.

T – Is this true?
H – Is this helpful?
I – Is this inspiring?
N – Is this necessary?
K – Is this kind?

Let us all practice mindful communication and bring respectful…

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Don’t Come To Me With The Entire Truth by Olav H. Hauge

This is a lovely short poem with a wonderful message. Instead of getting all want, sometimes a hint of it is what we need. It creates a sense of wonder and sensation of the whole.

Leonard Durso

Don’t come to me with the entire truth.
Don’t bring the ocean if I feel thirsty,
nor heaven if I ask for light;
but bring a hint, some dew, a particle,
as birds carry only drops away from water,
and the wind a grain of salt.

translated by Robert Bly

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Taking The Helm

I like the verb to lead, instead of the noun leadership. Once we name something, it becomes static and it is a role. When we use the verb and the gerund, leading, guiding a person adrift in confusion is acting ethically. We act in a loving way.

Inner Whispers

www.coachingbytext.comLacking a compass,
moral or otherwise, our
representatives
are adrift in confusion.
We must offer our guidance.

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