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Morning Haiku

When I taught, I used haiku for a various reasons. They are included in two curricula: Language Arts and Social Studies. In Language Arts, students are asked to select words that bit fit rhythm and message of a poem. In Social Studies, haiku were part of a unit on Japan, its history, and its culture. The unit included traditional and contemporary examples. Last, but not least I enjoy haiku, as well.

I think students sense when teachers are passionate about subjects, but conflicting messages adults send can be confusing them. At times, students came to school and said a parent questioned them about why I made them learn “stupid haiku.” I worked for an administrator who made a similar comments. I tell others that leaders pick words carefully and poetry helps us learn how to make those choices.

I love poetry and haiku because they challenge me to think about choosing words, spaces between them, and punctuation. Language and its rules have power that we often overlook.

Sonia Sanchez wrote this haiku and it reminds me how I experience my day tells others something. When I responded to students about why we learned haiku, I chose my words carefully, tempering the conflict that arose because of how I experienced poetry versus how a parent did. I hoped the words I chose signaled something about my day well so that others could enjoy their day.

Let me wear the day
Well so when it reaches you
You will enjoy it.

dig in.

“find your place on the planet. dig in, and take responsibility from there.” ― gary snyder

Source: dig in.

I enjoy Gary Snyder‘s poetry and essays, which has a Zen-like view of humans and their relationship with the world. It does not exist out there as if some mysterious wilderness we travel to. Instead, the objective and subjective worlds speak to each other through our senses.

In arguing we do not live outside of the objective world, John Dewey contended humans “live in community in virtue of the things they have in common.” My view is the community includes all sentient and non-sentient beings.

When we think of ourselves as living in community with all beings, animate and inanimate, we find our place in the world, dig in, and assume responsiblity for that piece of the world and our actions.

When we think, speak, and act responsibly, we become leaders who act as stewards, serving future generations in concrete and ethical ways. We grow mindful and attentive to a world we inhabit intimately and communicate with it on a moment-to-moment basis. It is real, existing inside and outside of us simultaneously.

This Being Human

Rumi and his poetry speak across the centuries and across culture. When we awake in the morning, we enter the world along with our emotions. We serve them as a host and they live within us as if our body were a guest house.

When we are mindful of how we experience emotions, we learn they unexpectedly move, replaced by another we attend to, as well. In this way, we invite them in and entertain them as grateful hosts, even when they catch us off guard. We receive each emotion honorably as we experience it and attend to it each moment as fully as humanly possible.

When we understand that emotions come and go and serve as guides in living, being human is a gift that we receive with gratitude and joy. We greet them at the door with a hearty laugh and question what meaning they bring to us in that moment.

This being human is like a quest house.

Every morning, a new arrival,

A joy, a depression, meanness . . .

Some momentary awareness comes as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all,

Even if they are a crowd of sorrows

Who violently sweep your house empty of its furniture.

Still, treat each guest honorably.

He may be clearing you out for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,

Meet them at the door, laughing; and invite them in.

Be grateful for whoever comes,

Because each has been sent as a guide from beyond.

 

Planting Chant

Both sides of our family descend from farmers. Farmers and indigenous people have affection for the land and its properties. They share the land with their sentient and non-sentient neighbours and step gently leaving a footprint that can be wiped away.

The Osage celebrated planting crops with the following chant. As I read the chant, I understood that planting belongs in all seasons. When humans plant and harvest in sustainable ways, we prosper, laughter fills homes, and we leave a small footprint.

Thich Nhat Hanh proposed humans “walk in a way that we only print peace and serenity on the Earth. Walk as if you are kissing the Earth with your feet.” When we walk on the Earth in this way and leave an imprint as a kiss, we act as stewards for future generations. When we live in harmony with nature, we form a sacred covenant with nature and future geneations.

I made a footprint: it is sacred.
I made a footprint: small green specks push through it.
I made a footprint: new green blades push upward.
I made a footprint: above it, blades wave in the breeze.
I made a footprint: over it grow new stalks.
I made a footprint: above it the blossoms lie gray.
I made a footprint: smoke rises from my house.
I made a footprint: there is laughter in my house.
I made a footprint: my family lives in good health.

The Sea Question

We don’t think of those inanimate objects, such as the sea, asking us questions. They do in indirect ways and when we sit a listen. It takes quiet patience to hear the questions and answers, if they are forthcoming

Elizabeth Smither wrote about how the sea asks those indirect questions. It does so by changing colour, watching the tide and wave actions, and how the pebbles move. When I am mindful and sensitive to the world outside my self and beyond my self, I understand it in relationship to me. It does not exist without me and I do not exist without it.

Through mindfulness, the world teaches me and I learn from it. What changes in the continuous flow of time that I miss, regardless of how attentive I am?

The sea asks “How is your life now?”
It does so obliquely, changing colour.
It is never the same on any two visits.

It is never the same in any particular
Only in generalities: tide and such matters
Wave height and suction, pebbles that rattle.

It doesn’t presume to wear a white coat
But it questions you like a psychologist
As you walk beside it on its long couch.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful

if you were a butterfly and I was a bee wouldn’t it be wonderful we would fly and be free in a world full of somethings in a world full of woe wouldn’t it be everything to fly to and fr…

Source: Wouldn’t it be wonderful

I had a long day. It began in Fernie, BC in the midst of great ski country. I got as far as Olds, Alberta, within view of the Rockies, and encountered car trouble and was towed home. We have a regular shop we take cars to, so we dropped it off.

What a treat it was to find this poem and image waiting. What if we were butterflies and bees? We could live in a world of somethings.

David at Barsetshire Diaries suggested we need a contemporary Dr. Seuss. Perhaps with a concerted effort we can match his wit and wisdom and as Jonathan at By the Mighty Mumford commented we would have a Seuss on the Loose. Oh, that is so wonderful and Seussian.

I Am the Tree

Where do the boundaries between the subjective and objective worlds end and begin? Is there a boundary between our inner and outer worlds?

Etta Blum writes a poem that asks those questions. There is a continuous moving between the inner and outer worlds. Parker Palmer uses the metaphor of a Möbius strip with an inner ant outer edge. When we run our fingers along the edge, we can do so seamlessly without lifting our fingers.

We are like a tree with a bird at the top. Each of us is part of the world we each live in and, if there is a boundary between each of us and it, it is thin and permeable as to appear non-existent. In a sense, we are the world and it is each of us. Like the bird in that tree, we have a niche where we thrive and live most fully. We return there to feel that sense of being and purpose.

I am the tree ascending.
At the topmost branch
I’ve become the bird,
starting from tip to
climb into above.
After-
ward, cloud.
Why not?
My purposes are clear.

 

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