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Welcoming Differences

I wrote this poem in SeaTac airport in Seattle waiting for my flight I had about 6 hours so there was considerable time to reflect. I make a point of scheduling reflection time into my routine and, when blocks of time emerge reflect, I take advantage of them. Reflecting on what happened and what we aspire to are essential to a well-lived life.

This poem emerged from a conversation about leadership allowing the uncomfortable to reveal itself in conversations. Jacques Derrida may have concluded being uncomfortable is admitting the strange into one’s life and the moment. There is a risk of danger and rejection, steeped in possible hospitality towards of one another and acceptance.

With patience and humility, I can welcome and listen in what Martin Buber referred to as an I-Thou encounter, not an I-it encounter where I diminish and objectify the Other a a thing. As noted in Gentle Rain, when we encounter someone, even briefly, we grow and add a little of each other to our selves. As humans, we are more alike than different. This is lost in the highly politicized rhetoric where purported leaders pit us against one another, dividing and highlighting differences for the sake of conquering.

Patience–

Conversing fully;

Making the world anew,

Healing through listening–

Welcoming uncomfortableness.

Information prevailing–

Supplanting heart’s courage;

Its wisdom,

Sensing the common–

Common sense.

Awakening, pausing, observing–

Emerging from hibernating;

Welcoming that which is different,

Iniviting–

Completing unfinished circles.

Piecing together peace–

Filling voids;

Voicing the silenced,

Heralding life–

Each voice rejoicing.

Making ones’ self whole–

Accompanied by others;

Joining hands and hearts,

Belonging to each other–

Fulfilling humanness.

I took this picture as we travelled through Glacier National Park. At the time, I just took it. Later, as I read about deep ecology, I learned geologists look at the strata in a mountain as chapters in the mountain’s story. For me, this is much like how we each have our unique stories brought together both in what makes us unique and what we hold in common.

Solitude. A Photographic Journey.

I think that I cannot preserve my health and spirits, unless I spend four hours a day at least, and it is commonly more than that, sauntering through the woods and over the hills and fields, absolu…

Source: Solitude. A Photographic Journey.

The photographs are wonderful and a quote accompanies each speaking to the essential nature of spending time with our self. It is in reflective moments that we spend in solitude that we rediscover who we are in trying to make our self whole.

The Hasidic scholar, educator, political activist, and philosopher Martin Buber said “solitude is the place of purification.” Through dialogue with our self, others, and the world, we grow to understand who we are and our place in the world in relationship to others.

Capturing The Moment — Papilio multicaudata Butterfly

Capturing The Moment — Papilio multicaudata Butterfly.

The image and the short verse in the link are spectacular. Martin Buber wrote complex prose which was poetic. His central point in his seminal work I and Thou was we become who we are in relationship with ourselves, others, and the world. He has a beautiful section about our relationship with trees. In our relationships, we become unique. We are not duplicates of anyone else.

We are who we are because of our relationships, the impact they have on us, and the sense we make of them. Sometimes, more often than not I imagine, the relationships go unnoticed and are taken-for-granted just as our uniqueness is. We become whats in the world rather than a particular who in the world. We might even fall victim to seeing ourselves as whats, as products, rather than that unique person who is only expressed in our particular whoness.

In a world driven by standardization and conformity to standards, it is difficult to find one’s voice and express one’s self through that voice.

In Those Years by Adrienne Rich

As I posted the last two or three blogs, I realized sometimes how little we think of we and we individually think of I. I am often guilty of this. Life experienced is a relational enterprise. I think it does start with the I, but moves out to embrace the Thou in the way writers such as Martin Buber meant. We experience life through relational experiences of I and Thou.

Adrienne Rich provided us with poetry as a daily reminder of “no man being an island.”

In those years, people will say, we lost track

of the meaning of we, of you

we found ourselves

reduced to I

and the whole thing became

silly, ironic, terrible:

we were trying to live a personal life

and, yes, that was the only life we could bear witness to

But the dark birds of history screamed and plunged

into our personal weather

They were headed somewhere else but their beaks and pinions drove

along the shore, through the rags of fog

where we stood, saying I

Take care with those who you are we with and enjoy them today. Have a good 7th of July.

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