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Tag Archives: Leadership. Servant-Leadership

A Light Breather

Theodore Roethke wrote poems that attempted to connect the inner and outer worlds we inhabit simultaneously. While exploring the outer world, it is important we find quiet in the inner world. In those quiet moments, moving back and forth we find ourselves staying.

The metaphor comparing this movement to that of a snail challenges me to think deeply about what living and breathing mindfully is. What do I notice? And, who and what notices me? As I move, am I sensitive to the world that I move through? Or, do I walk heavily chasing those who which to join me away?

The spirit moves,
Yet stays:
Stirs as a blossom stirs,
Still wet from its bud-sheath,
Slowly unfolding,
Turning in the light with its tendrils;
Plays as a minnow plays,
Tethered to a limp weed, swinging,
Tail around, nosing in and out of the current,
Its shadows loose, a watery finger;
Moves, like the snail,
Still inward,
Taking and embracing its surroundings,
Never wishing itself away,
Unafraid of what it is,
A music in a hood,
A small thing,
Singing.

The Invitation

I am not familiar with Oriah Mountain Dreamer’s poetry, but, when I found this poem, it reached out and called me.

What questions do I ask myself, that I cannot answer. There is an eloquence in those questions that leads me to new questions, without knowing the answers. When I sense the world in one way or another, I am unable to sense it in any other way.

What if I live the wildness of life and I allow myself some abandon, not carelessness? I can dance with that wildness and not care about what others may think, hopefully making the world a better place.

When we open our hearts to the other, their standing in life is about who they are as a person rather than what identifies them: their job, their age, where they live, etc. When we open our hears to the other, it is an invitation to be human and humane with them.

It doesn’t interest me what you do for a living.

I want to know what you ache for and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart’s longing.

It doesn’t interest me how old you are.

I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool for love, for your dream, for the adventure of being alive.

It doesn’t interest me what planets are squaring your moon.

I want to know if you have touched the centre of your own sorrow, if you have been opened by life’s betrayals or have become shriveled and closed from fear of further pain.

I want to know if you can sit with pain, mine or your own, without moving to hide it, or fade it, or fix it.

I want to know if you can be with joy, mine or your own; if you can dance with wildness and let the ecstasy fill you to the tips of your fingers and toes without cautioning us to be careful, be realistic, remember the limitations of being human.

It doesn’t interest me if the story you are telling me is true.

I want to know if you can disappoint another to be true to yourself. If you can bear the accusation of betrayal and not betray your own soul.

I want to know if you can see beauty even when it is not pretty every day.

And if you can source your own life from its presence.

I want to know if you can live with failure, yours and mine, and still stand at the edge of the lake and shout to the silver of the full moon,

“Yes!”

It doesn’t interest me to know where you live or how much money you have.

I want to know if you can get up after the night of grief and despair, weary and bruised to the bone and do what needs to be done to feed the children.

It doesn’t interest me who you know or how you came to be here.

I want to know if you will stand in the centre of the fire with me and not shrink back.

It doesn’t interest me where or what or with whom you have studied.

I want to know what sustains you from the inside when all else falls away.

I want to know if you can be alone with yourself and if you truly like the company you keep in the empty moments.

 

 

Smart Cookie

Richard Schiffman counsels that when we are hunting for something, whether it is a cookie or wisdom, it is harder to find it. What we look for can sometimes be right there in front of us, but, in looking for it, we cannot find it. In fact, what we are looking for can end up in the most unexpected places: in a jar in Tennessee.

It is in mindful, sensitive being in the present moment that what we look for finds us. When we apply this to leadership and education, it is about listening to the world and others.

What we each seek is unique to each of us. When we tell the stories and speak the poems about what we seek, we do so finding the words that suit our stories and our poems. Leaders sense this and offer others space to find the words for their stories and poems. In finding and choosing our paths and our words, we can become the smart cookies we seek.

The fortune that you seek is in another cookie,

was my fortune. So I’ll be equally frank—the wisdom

that you covet is in another poem. The life that you desire

is in a different universe. The cookie you are craving

is in another jar. The jar is buried somewhere in Tennessee.

Don’t even think of searching for it. If you found that jar,

everything would go kerflooey for a thousand miles around.

It is the jar of your fate in an alternate reality. Don’t even

think of living that life. Don’t even think of eating that cookie.

Be a smart cookie—eat what’s on your plate, not in some jar

in Tennessee. That’s my wisdom for today, though I know

it’s not what you were looking for.

They say it’s your birthday…

They say it’s your birthday….

It was Alice Walker‘s birthday yesterday and the post linked includes a poem by her entitled We Alone.

It reminded me that we alone have the ability to make the world a better place as we work together in collectives called we alone.

It is an issue of private shame

It is an issue of private shame.

The link is not to a poem, but rather to a series of quotes about hunger and the personal shame that comes with it. Politicians use hunger and other social justice issues as talking points and not seeing it as a matter of private and public shame in countries such as Canada and the US with their wealth.

On the left, we have politicians who would subscribe to giving people something. On the right, politicians would blame those who go hungry including the children. Giving people a hand up is important and walking with them is a part of the longer journey. Solving issues such as hunger is community work. It takes neighbours helping each other in those moments of need. Regardless of what we have, we share. Wouldn’t that be a powerful learning in our schools.

Landscape Survey

I chose a metaphor about 21st Century learning being similar to a living topography in my writing to date, which is different from the flat world view of some i.e. Thomas Friedman.

There is definitely more information available in our world and it comes at us much faster, but my view is one that of textured and layered world and not flat. This uses the etymological roots of topic linked to topikas and topos. In this sense, we engage topics which are alive and there multiple meanings continually emerge, one for each person in the learning environment.

I am challenged by the thought my understanding is not the only one that applies. I only need to turn to nature and see what John Brehm pointed out in this poem. I constantly survey landscapes as communally a better world hopefully emerges, not through a unified understanding, but one diversely rich and humane. I am called to remember others see things from a particular and unique perspective that is their own, not mine.

And what about this boulder,

knocked off the mountain top and

tumbled down a thousand years ago

 to lodge against the stream bank,

does it waste itself with worry

about how things are going

to turn out? Does the current

slicing around it stop itself mid-

stream because it can’t get past

all it’s left behind back at

the source or up in the clouds

where its waters first fell

 to earth? And these trees,

would they double over and

clutch themselves or lash out

 furiously if they were to discover

what the other trees really

thought of them? Would the wind

 reascend into the sky forever,

like an in-drawn breath,

if it knew it was fated simply

to sweep the earth of windlessness,

to touch everything and keep

Silence, Solitude, Sabbath

I head into my Sabbath – I disconnect to reconnect. Last weekend we spent time in silence and in that space solitude appeared. I enjoyed a good week in a place I often struggle to find peace of mind. Besides the retreat, it was made easier as I participate in a wonderful group on a monthly conference call and we met this week. I also interviewed for a radio show about mindful servant-leadership. This was an incredible experience and will share a schedule, when it is available, for those who are interested in listening to it.

I can only say the peace I felt this week was a result of the silence and solitude at the retreat. This and sharing that experience with Kathy was a great time.

Spacious silence and solitude…

Within you I sought refuge

Peaceful and compassionate place.

There lovingkindness discovered me

The heart breaks open

Each moment its reward.

Silently the spirit reveals itself

Able to speak

Softly, gently, tenderly,

Begs for its quiet voice to be heard.

Solace finds me

An unmarked path emerges

One step at a time.

At week’s end

Gratitude for wisdom revealed

For week’s beginning.

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