Apache man, 1903, by Edward S. Curtis Apache Blessing Prayer May the sun bring you new energy by day. May the moon softly restore you by night. May the rain wash away your worries. May the breeze blow new strength into your being. May you walk gently through the world and know its beauty all […]
Dawn provides many beautiful posts and I thought this was one that was appropriate as we change the calendar from 2021 to 2022. It reminds us of the how we are interconnected with each other and Mother Earth. Thich Nhat Hanh refers to this as inter-being and we are inter-are with all matter, living and non-living.
As we begin and end each day, we might think in terms of how nature provides energy, restores us, washes away our worries, and blows new strength into our very being and brings new life to our spirit. For this to occur, we need to walk through the world gently and be mindful of the beauty surrounding us.
As we move into the new calendar year, I leave you with a Maya Angelou quote to help guide you through each day of 2022:
It has been awhile since I posted. I offer this poem I wrote several years ago.
At Christmas last year, I read an essay by Parker Palmer on On Being that reminds me the miracle of Christmas and the incarnation of God in human form. It reminded me how, as a child growing up in Northern Alberta, Christmas was a time of wonder I could not explain and try not to as a rational adult.
At about the same time, Parker posted on Facebook about an event he experienced the previous year in Nogales Mexico at a house for asylum seekers. Asylum is another way of saying they were seeking refuge. He points out Jesus was likely a person of colour. He was a born into the Jewish faith. In this sense, his birth is an ecumenical event.
Carpenter guiding the way,
Expectant mother riding,
Backs straight; heads held high–
Donkey serving as regal carriage.
Seeking refuge from the night–
Giving birth in a stable,
Swathed and cradled in a manger,
Beasts welcoming the child.
Showering gifts upon us–
Returning each year,
Lighting the way–
Only asking, “Can you open your hearts?”
Source of strength,
Our turn to humbly receive gifts,
For several years, Kathy and I enjoyed Canadian singer and actor Tom Jackson. In pre-Covid times, he toured at Christmas to help food banks. In the midst of Covid, we each have to find ways to share with those in need.
He does a lovely rendition of Huron Carole, which I share below. Again, this points to an ecumenical nature of Christmas, Christ’s Mass, echoing Parker’s remembrance of “the story, the music, the candlelight, the scent of pine, the silent night, the warm presence of family and friends.”
For me, it is also food and opening a present on Christmas Eve. The food included traditional French-Canadian tourtière (meat pie), which Kathy and I continue to share with our children and grandchildren.
This poem from Danna Faulds is a perfect reminder for what Summer offers. Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com My wealth is wonder. True abundance is the delight I feel on summer nights as fireflies rise from the grass and Orion strides across the sky. I measure my wealth in birdseed and hummingbird feeders, in the […]
Val shares wonderful posts and often includes poems by Danna Faulds. This particular poem caught my eye with words wonder and abundance. Wonder is about being amazed by the world in unexpected ways. It is about experiencing the extraordinary in the ordinary. Wealth is not about material wealth. It is about feeling whole and well, It is about sharing with others what makes us feel a crumb of joy, as Mary Oliver would say.
In the ordinary moments that reveal their extraorindariness, we discover abundance. There are ineffeable, intangible qualities to abundance understood this way. Despite these qualities, abundance brings joy, which is not to be treated as a crumb per Mary Oliver.
I leave you with a Mary Oliver poem, Don’t Hesitate, which echoes the Danna Fauld poem about where I discover my riches and wealth.
If you suddenly and unexpectedly feel joy, don’t hesitate. Give in to it. There are plenty of lives and whole towns destroyed or about to be. We are not wise, and not very often kind. And much can never be redeemed. Still, life has some possibility left. Perhaps this is its way of fighting back, that sometimes something happens better than all the riches or power in the world. It could be anything, but very likely you notice it in the instant when love begins. Anyway, that’s often the case. Anyway, whatever it is, don’t be afraid of its plenty. Joy is not made to be a crumb.
The last time we were in Pheonix we walked the paths in a local park. We noticed this cactus beginning to bloom the first day and stopped each day to check on its progress. It provided joy and abundance just by sharing with us.
By the last day, it had several flowers. Nature worked its magic.
According to Buddha Be patient. You’ll know when it’s time for you to wake up and move ahead. i fell backi lost my trackas my chin sagsand my eyes go blacki want all my senses back *** a day or so ago South Thompson River Valley, July 2021
I have followed Hedy for some time, enjoying her quotes from The Buddha and accompanying photography and poetry. She playfully entitled her about page Nearly Me and describes what it means to be a Sloppy Buddhist. We are always becoming, partially able to follow Buddhist precepts in the process of becoming, and incomplete in how we are to be defined.
The post reminded me of poem, Imperfection by Elizabeth Carlson, in Teaching with Fire (Edited by Sam Intrator and Megan Scribner). The poem was written as Elizabeth Carlson who died at a young age. Perhaps it was that experience, which allowed her to grow to love her imperfections. Despite the sadness, there is a playfulness in the poem e.g., learning to purr as she lays under her cat.
I am falling in love with my imperfections The way I never get the sink really clean, forget to check my oil, lose my car in parking lots, miss appointments I have written down, am just a little late.
I am learning to love the small bumps on my face the big bump of my nose, my hairless scalp, chipped nail polish, toes that overlap. Learning to love the open-ended mystery of not knowing why
I am learning to fail to make lists, use my time wisely, read the books I should.
Instead I practice inconsistency, irrationality, forgetfulness.
Probably I should hang my clothes neatly in the closet all the shirts together, then the pants, send Christmas cards, or better yet a letter telling of my perfect family.
But I’d rather waste time listening to the rain, or lying underneath my cat learning to purr.
I used to fill every moment with something I could cross off later.
Perfect was the laundry done and folded all my papers graded the whole truth and nothing but
Now the empty mind is what I seek the formless shape the strange off center sometimes fictional me.
The quote Hedy used was one about being patient and realizing we will each understand when it is time to wake up and move ahead. She shared some images from nature and they reminded me of the passage from Mattew 6:28-29: “Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow, they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.” Nature understands the process of patience and just being, waiting to awaken and move forward at the right time. Too often, we do not show ourselves the patience we need to grow and be ready to move forward.
I leave you with the following video by Seasick Steve. That is his his stage name and that and the song share a sense of playfulness in them, too.
With so much aggression and turmoil in this world, try and practice peace everyday in your world. If you can’t smooth that frown away and replace it with a smile, at least try and keep your anger down the best you can. Hard to do when you are not having a good day and feeling […]
I came across this post about a week ago, accidnently closed it, and could not remember where it was located. Michelle shares a post that points to what we need most in this world: love and peace. The third paragraph resonates with me. Nature depends on diversity and cooperation to succeed. Without those, it falls into disarray.
Thich Nhat Hanh writes beautifully about finding the extraordinary in the ordinary. We cannot have the extraordinary without the ordinary. We have to look deeper and understand there will always be mystery in what we are exploring.
I used phenomenology, specifically hermeneneutic phenomenology, in writing my disseration and it premised on mystery, making meaning, and a sense of wonder and awe as we explore particular phenomena. In many ways, each person is a phenomenologist as humans, by their nature, are meaning-making beings.
As a teacher, I used an activity called A Culture of Peace. In keeping with the Pema Chodron quote Michelle shared, I asked students for words and phrases to describe a culture of war and recorded answers on the board. It did not take long to exhaust the descriptions, usually no more than 10 minutes. I then asked them to desribe a culture of peace. The first time I used the activity, and it became a staple, I was left withy a sense of wonder how these junior high school students kept me moving for almost an hour filling up all the whiteboards. Even students who rarely shared, were excited. As we were borrowing someone’s classroom, we had to arbitrarily end the conversation and, as we walked back to our space, two young men commented they could have done that all day. The sense of wonder, joy, and fulfilment was palbable and extraordinary.
Several years ago, I used the same activity with an undergrad class of future teachers. It was surprised how unengaged and disinterested they were as a group. Perhaps, we become jaded in ways that are difficult to overcome, focused on end results and schedules rather than the joy of learning and sharing.
Below, is a picture of Mount Robson. We stop there on our trips to British Columbia and walk a bit. I am always left with a sense of wonder and, as we walk alongside the Robson River, I feel a sense of peace and gratitude for just being there.
I leave you with a quote from Gustavo Gutiérrez, a liberation theologist I am currently reading: “A gratuitous encounter is mysterious and draws us into itself.” Father Gutiérrez uses the word gratuitous to describe something we encounter, which is free and exists for it own sake for us to enjoy e.g., lilies of the field, a mountain, a loved one, etc. When I encounter the person, phenomena, event, etc. I am grateful for its existence.
“Don’t bend; don’t water it down; don’t try to make it logical; don’t edit your own soul according to the fashion. Rather, follow your most intense obsessions mercilessly.”― Franz Kafka How often have we told people what they want to hear, rather than speak our truth? During the process of writing my second book, there […]
Karen writes about how challenging it is to speak one’s truth. We often conflate truth with opinion. Truth is about how we each experience a particular phenomenon. It always stands in relationship to others and how they experience that phenomenon. Truth comes from the Germanic word tröth, which is taking a solemn pledge or undertaking. We enter into a relationship with someone and/or something e.g., marriage vows. Each peson comes to understand the meaning of the relationship and the pledge slightly differently.
We live in a world which is sometimes referred to as post-truth.. In my view, this just moral relativism dressed up differently and allows people to ignore the humanity of others who may disagree with them or are different than them. It becomes easy to say whatever we want to and claim we are being cancelled when someone disagrees. When used in this manner, truth becomes irrelevant and a buzz word.
Truth has taken on greater importance with the recent findings of unmarked graves at or close to residential schools for Indigenous children who were taken from their families and communities. Canada has a Truth and Reconciliation report related to the way Indienous peoples and communities were mistreated and that is a gentle word to describe the process. This includes the residential schools set up by the government and run by several christian demoninations. It is important to note truth comes before reconciliation. It is acknowledging the wrongs of the past, which is essential to reconciling, making whole and healing.
The reports logo is based on the 7 sacred teachings found in some form in North American Indigenous cultures: Truth, Humility, Honesty, Wisdom, Respect, Courage and Love. Although these teachings form the basis for North American Indigenous traditions and dialogue, one can find them, in some form, in other spiritiual teachings. They should form the ground on which we enter into relationships with others, the world, and what we hold sacred.
What draws me to Mary Oliver‘s poetry is the humility she invokes in questions she asks in certain poems. My favourite is The Summer Day where she concludes her questions with “what is you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” Truth is preceded by humility and accepting their will always be questions we cannot answer. Truth needs the other sacred teachings as life opens up with questions we cannot answer and full grasp.
Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean–
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down —
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields
Espirational provides short posts that are often accompanied by lovely images. This quote from Thich Nhat Hanh relates to my post, Deep, the other day. It was Bela‘s post I shared and expanded on a bit.
If we think of Earth and Nature as living bodies, we can expand this quote about health as an expression of gratitude to encompass more than just each of us individuals and human bodies. In moments of gratitude, we should ask who benefits from pillaging the Earth and Nature? We can also ask who is most harmed?
Currently, I am reading a book by Gustavo Gutiérrez and Paul Farmer. Father Gutiérrez is a pioneers of Liberation Theology and Paul Farmer is a medical doctor and medical anthropologist who helped found Partners in Health. Part of the reading is to write about leadership, education, and how hope can inform each of us as we emerge from COVID-19, if we actually do.
I hoped a crisis of this magnitude, plus the social and racial justice reckonings, might be a time to (re)imagine and (trans)form leadership and education. I am unsure this is what will happen, as the agenda of the very wealthy does not seek a “preferential option for the poor” and those most in need, inlcuding Gaia and Mother Nature. Yes, there is talk, but most of that is empty words and political theatre, posturing and peformativity for one’s constituents. It takes peope filled with courage and hope to stand up and say we need something different.
My hope rests in the next generation, the young people who are already making a mark. I hope they do not become disenchanged and discouraged. In this vein, I leave you with the following quote, attributed to Tasunke Witko (Crazy Horse) days before he was killed.
Upon suffering beyond suffering:
The Red Nation shall rise again and it shall be a blessing for a sick world; a world filled with broken promises, selfishness and separations; a world longing for light again.
I see a time of Seven Generations when all the colors of mankind will gather under the Sacred Tree of Life and the whole Earth will become one circle again.
In that day, there will be those among the Lakota who will carry knowledge and understanding of unity among all living things and the young white ones will come to those of my people and ask for this wisdom.
I salute the light within your eyes where the whole Universe dwells. For when you are at that center within you and I am that place within me, we shall be one.
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.
I am back. I took a sabbatical of sorts from the blog, as I only checked in on comments and to follow up through the reader. It has been a busy time supervising student teachers, attending online events, presenting at online events, writing, getting published, and life in general. I am unsure how active I will be. I hope to be posting 2-3 times a week and maybe write some new poetry.
I return with a share from Cindy who takes wonderful pictures of nature close to home in the Holler and further afield. The images remind me we are entering the time of the year where life comes alive after its dormant period, Yes, things do remain in a state of flux with weather. Despite the uncertainty, it is a time to rejoice and search out the joy and beauty located wherever we look in nature.
Cindy shared a video of musicians playing Beethoven’s 9th Symphony as a virtual ensemble. Artists of all forms find ways to lead us in the most challenging times and COVID-19 is no exception. I am grateful we have wonderful artists who take the lead in meaningful ways.
It has been hard this past year for each of us with less social interaction. An emerging area of interest for me is the role virtual communities can and will play in our lives moving forward. It is what I presesnted on this past weekend and am fleshing out an article for submission. People surprised me with their response to what I talked about. I see hope and joy in sharing online. It brings me together, often with people I have not met and likely will never meet.
Common is the root word of community, communicate, and communion. What do we have in common that brings us together, besides our grievances and grief? In short, what gives each of us joy? How do we experience communicating what we receive from others and share with others? How has listening to others changed in this brave new world? Communion goes beyond the religious concept, speaking to a level of intimacy. How do we reveal who we are in a virtual world? Virtual and virtue share etymological roots, speaking to our character in these communities.
I leave you with a video from Mavis Staples. How do we get it together and bring joy into our lives as a collective and community?
I originally wrote this on Bowen Island, attending an Art of Hosting retreat. It reminded me of the counter cultural nature of Parker Palmer’s writing and events focused on his work. It is about communicating and seeing others as fully human.
In today’s divided world, this seems countercultural. An essential element to hosting and dialogue is listening to others in respectful ways. It does not mean we agree with them. What it means is we are open and listen to hear how they experience living their life, guided by one’s conscience and sense of values that ground us. Values give each of us strength, anchoring us and letting us understand what is proper and improper.
When we invite people into conversation, listen deeply, and ask questions which shake our certainty about the world we turn inward and focus on what grounds us to respond to them and help heal a hurting world.
Holding pen tentatively;
In the midst of nature’s beauty.
In the midst of sounds flowing.
Breeze caressing gently–
Sunlight bathing softly;
Basking in these moments,
Resting in peace.
A colleague took this picture of me on top of Cates Hill on Bowen Island as I wrote and they were gracious enough to share it with me. It is spectacular with water and land in the panoramic view.