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.
“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
I originally wrote this on a rainy, warm day several years ago. It was a hard rain, but still 18 C0 in Edmonton. Despite the warmth, we had a forecast of wet snow and coolling temperatures for that evening. In Alberta at this time of year, things can change weather-wise quite suddenly.
The forecast is for above-average temperatures for another week. Even then, it is not cooling appreciably. Instead, we will have rain as a possibility. Most trees still have an abundance of leaves, although they are turning colours.
In Canada, we celebrate Thanksgiving as crops are harvested and stored by mid-October. It is not a sure thing, but that is the premise. The agrarian roots of Canada are deep, so the tradition of an October Thanksgiving remains.
Painting the world anew.
Thanking, sharing, celebrating–
Readying for winter’s respite.
I took this picture in Fairmount Hot Springs a couple of years ago. It was Thanksgiving weekend and it snowed on our way back. You can see the colours have changed in the distance and the mist over Columbia Lake.
I began to write this poem after a long and tiring week. Sometimes, when I step back from the visceral nature of my emotions, postive and negative, I find a kernel to prompt writing, thinking, and acting.
Too often, I find myself talking when I should be listening. This includes listening to me, and, more importantly, listening to those whose stories are silenced in unjust ways. I think those two forms of listening go hand-in-hand. Not listening to others is often a product of being so busy with the noise of my own life. When I listen from the heart, I hear words anew.
Rich stories silenced–
Seeking just spaces,
Sharing and healing;
To speak freely.
Sadly, stories unheard,
Of being oppressed;
Shunted to the margins.
Listening with heart–
Leaning into stories,
With grace and humility,
Hearing for the first time.
Am I ready to act?
But, without doing;
I listen to the blues, gospel, and jazz most of my life. When it comes to the blues, gospel, and jazz music I am aware of the privilege I experience and do not take it for granted. As a Canadian, I attended concerts, because African-American performers came to Canada. They had access to venues I could attend here that they did not have in their own country.
Today, I heard Mavis Staples (on her latest album) singing and it resonated. For real and just change to emerge, I must be willing to listen and change the things I can. When I listen to the blues and gospel music, particularlyperformed by African-American women, there is an undercurrent for meaningful and just change in the world.
I wrote this during my last year teaching. It had been a particularly challenging day in the classroom and beyond. The students were full of energy and it was not always healthy. I grew frustrated and visibly annoyed part way through the afternoon. Part of it was a lack of a healthy relationship with the administration, which seeped into my teaching at times. It was challenging to set those frustrations aside, particularly with little support and how it impacted my teaching.
Having said thi, I chose to teach anothere year and wanted to teach those particular students. On myway home, I realized I need to establish a different, encouraging tone. In a sense, my ability to influence is my ability to recognize my reality and walk into the fire, the crucible, so to speak.In his teaching, Thich Nhat Hanh reminds me even weeds of a tough day serve a purpose. They fertilize and increase the yield of a crop: children’s learning and this could be lost on on me. For the remainder of the school year, some 7-8 months, I used this as my touchstone.
Sometimes, I allow myself to assume what is out there makes me who I am. If I let it, I succumb to those forces. On the other hand and stepping back from the brink, I reclaim my view and my callings in life. I do not let others and circumstances dictate who I am. I can choose how to respond. This is no mean feat as, in the heat of the battle, it is hard to not be reactionary. The best I can do is be the best I can be in a moment, reflect later, and grow anew with fertilizer provided by tough moments.
unearthing a better, truer self–
resting in my heart.
polishing the gems of self,
righting speech! righting action!
influencing others properly–
reclaiming my voice,
bringing forth my best.
Much to my mother’s chagrin, I got The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan when I was in high school. I still have it and still spin the vinyl after all these years. Although it is now almost 60 years old, A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall still rings true for me today. Dylan wrote this in the midst of the Cold War with nuclear threats all around. Today, we are in the midst of multiple crises: health, wealth distribution, inequities, etc. The question I should ask in difficult times, small and large, is how can I be the difference I want to see in the world to paraphrase Mahatma Gandhi? Even if it is difficult, it is noble, virtuous, and hopeful, in the face of great obstacles, to speak truth to power, (re)calling I can only make the difference I can make.
I am unsure the title fits the poem , but I left it as is. This was a hard poem to write as I delved into something I am not 100% confident with and that is quantum spirituality. As a quantum physicist writing from a feminist perspective, Karen Barad writes about entanglement. In short, we are entangled with one another, with non-sentient beings, and the inanimate of the Universe. This involves moral responsiblities in relating to those other beings and things, without even knowing what it is and how we are related to each of them.
Medicine wheels are part of many First Nations’ cultures. They connect people to Nature and reflect our interdependence with Nature and each other. They signal the need for harmony in lives and ground us with and in our world. In my understanding, they have quantum aspects to them as we are entangled in ways that suggest we are always seeking harmony in hopeful ways. What a medicine wheel asks us is to acknowledge interdependence, something those who wield levers are woefully reluctant to do. Instead, humans become resources and chattel in making profits in a zero sum game.
After my post In Seeming Chaos, Hope, I wondered about the current state of world affairs e.g. political crises, health crisis, economic crisis, etc. They are entangled with each other. I cannot simply wish one away and the others remain. Moreover, they existed before COVID-19. We did not see them easily. A lack of access to health care was in place for many people before the pandemic. We warehoused elderly people (the not-so nice term is aging people) as has become our custom in the advanced world e.g. schools.
I began to look for a spiritual connection with quantum physics and entanglement and found it. What was interesting was I have been reading about the connections for years in the writings of The Dalai Lama and Fritoj Capra. (The link is to an article where both are referenced.) What Karen Barad does is presents a detailed case for it from a scientific and feminist perspective. I think the feminine perspective is essential, as I consider bell hooks, Mary Belenky, Riane Eisler, etc. to understand how we move away from what Eisler termed a dominator, patriarchal world based on binaries and assigning a number to one that incorporates a participatory, matriarchal world. In this world, Belenky refers to intuitive, feminine, and I would argue, indigenous ways of knowing and wisdom based on the quality of living we each experience. These are impossible to quantify. However, we can describe them in poetic language. What if we had leaders like Jacinda Ardern and Angela Merkel instead of people who pass themselves off as leaders and fall far short of leading?
Basking in Brother Sun’s warmth–
Healing (in)spiriting waters–
(In)haling sweet air–
Homing in on what’s proper,
Resting in one’s responsibilities.
In relating to the Universe–
While standing in Nature–
When Supporting other beings–
Discovering hope(ful) ways.
Intuiting as quantum beings–
Accepting unfelt entanglement–
Hearing unheard voices–
“Crossing love’s hearth.”
Speaking truth to power.
I took the picture on Bowen Island and began to write the poem.
I gave a lot of thought today about hope and its lack of it. I do not confuse hope with positivity and positive mindset. Instead, I understand hope as grounded in reality. Emily Dickinson described it as “the thing with feathers,” suggesting we cannot fully describe it. Its ineffeable nature creates a metaphoric meaning for each of us. Without dreams and hope, Langston Hughes cautions “life is a broken-winged bird/that cannot fly.” With hope and dreams of previous enslaved generations, Maya Angelou repeats the title of her poem “I Rise” as a prayer and refrain against hopelessness.
Too often, people want to pigeon-hole others in binary and dichotomous ways e.g. conservative or progressive. It appears easier and less ambiguous if we can label someone, somehow providing a sense of stability about who this or that person is. What we mis-understand is “and” means something. It acknowledges how complex each human is. We are not usually one thing or the other. Instead, we are mingling of things, experiences informing how we live, and the context within which we live. I want to conserve things e.g. Nature and, at the same time, progress e.g. equity regardless of gender, race, sexual orientation, etc. Neither is premised on political or, in our case, reality TV, sloganeering.
Paulo Freire and bell hooks write about hope, unconditional love, and dialogue in educating children, youth, and adults. I think the critical theory is incorrect. What they propose is critical pedagogy/andragogy where I ground dialogue in listening with lovingkindness to those with different lived-experiences. In mindful, non-judgemental listening, I seek to open up space where the Other shares their reality and wisdom. In acknowledgeing the humanity of the Other and greeting them in dignified silence, I might offer the fragile hope so needed in today’s world. Imagine a world where we greeted one another with dignity, rather than making up slick political mottos and creating disparaging nicknames that assault others?
I wrote this poem after a long, hard day. I thumbed through some right-brain scribbles and this was the result.
Even in chaos, hope–
Faith springing forth,
Beloved Other sharing wisdom:
What do we hold in common.
Symphonic voices arising–
Binding and healing.
Acknowledging shared ground.
Holding each Other gently,
Being safe in this space.
This was the first secular song I heard in church. It was the late 1960’s. Today, I think we do need mountains we have bulldozed, meadows we have paved over, and water we have contaminated. Having said this, we need love and hope equal measure to make those things happen.