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Tag Archives: compassion

What Can I Do?

I posted What Can I Do on December 12, 2012 as a response to the Sandy Hook school shootings.

Several weeks ago, Kathy asked if I Google myself. I replied I had, but there was not a lot. I told her I thought there was maybe a page related to Teacher as Transformer, my Twitter account, Facebook, presentations I made, etc.

Kathy Googled me and found a link to Amazon. It was a book review for a poetry anthology published by Silver Birch Press.

I have poems in the anthology. The review included Barbara Mojica‘s comments: One of my favorites is “What Can I Do” by Ivon Prefontaine. Here are a few lines: Change begins in me./I am a catalyst/I look inside:/Call forth a gentle spirit-/Give it voice.

As I explore mindfulness in daily life, I thought this was an example of two related phenomena. First, as a writer and teacher, I do not know how my words and actions might transcend time and place. Second, as a result, there is a demand on me to be mindful of how I speak and act.

Here is the text of the poem and below is a video with a reading and more context to the poem.

On a sombre day–

Grief and sorrow the order,

Message heard:

Change begins in me.

I am a catalyst

Look inside:

Summon forth a gentle spirit–

Let it speak.

In light, love happens–

Resonates,

Reaches out its hand

Beckon others to join.

Rings on clear pond,

Ripples of love touch,

Love cascades forth,

Good people meet.

Good touches good,

Prayer meets prayer,

Love conquers hate

Join together.

Good people summoned–

Their tears catalyze,

Grieve and heal as one.

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Simplicity, Patience, Compassion

Simplicity, Patience, Compassion.

The link is to a short poem written by Lao Tzu. The world is a complex place, but nature operates in simple ways. Because of this, the phenomena we experience and how we experience their essence is not easily revealed.

Being mindful requires patience. It takes time to see the extraordinary in the ordinary. It is there and it speaks to us when we stop and listen with our heart. When we are patient, we can show our gratitude for those things that slip by unnoticed in life’s busyness.

Being patient, begins with showing compassion for ourselves. Without this compassion, we can hardly expect to care for the world, sentient and non-sentient, we continuously encounter. Being patient and compassionate, allows us to be grateful for what we experience, our living.

There`s what you do

We live a personal story based on personal perspective.  I find it hard some days to not live too deeply in my story and forget the good things that happen. The kindness and generosity of people helped overcome many challenging times. I felt the breath of compassion.  I thank students and their families for lifting me up during difficult times.

Al Zolynas wrote this Zen-like poem and reminds me my narrative is only my narrative. Others see their truth differently and sometimes quite differently. And then there is poetry the act of doing, feeling, and sharing all wrapped up in one.

and then there’s what you feel
while you do it
and then there are the words
that come later
to describe, recreate, narrate it–
all at a third remove
from the doing. And
then there’s poetry,
a doing in words, the act of writing
and a pointing back to
the ultimate and absolute
the relativity of words
their limited and limiting circumscriptions,
their stalactites of feeling,
their penumbras of meaning,
the deep cave of their origin.

Compassion

Thich Nhat Hanh provided this beautiful quote about compassion and embracing who we are in this world. I need to be inside of someone else`s skin to build compassion.

The essence of love and compassion is understanding, the ability to recognize the physical, material, and psychological suffering of others, to put ourselves “inside the skin” of the other. We “go inside” their body, feelings, and mental formations, and witness for ourselves their suffering. Shallow observation as an outsider is not enough to see their suffering. We must become one with the subject of our observation. When we are in contact with another’s suffering, a feeling of compassion is born in us. Compassion means, literally, “to suffer with.”

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