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Collectively Eliminating Racisim

via Collectively Eliminating Racisim

This is a great post by Shobna. We each have a responsibility to our part, our small part. We can only change the world we are immediate with.

For me, Michelle Obama‘s quote points to Socrates: “An unexamined life is not worth living.” How often do I critically examine my actions, my words, my life? What privileges run below the surface and privilege me in my life? Where can I go without worry of being stopped and interrogated?

Martin Luther King Jr. and Thich Nhat Hanh remind me of the intertwined nature my life of as part of a larger garment of inter-being. What have I done to make the threads that link me to others stronger, healthier, and more whole?

Wendell Berry in his poem, Be Still in Haste, speaks to the need to pause. In each ensuing moment, I begin anew to set the world right. This moment is always the first.

How quietly I
begin again

from this moment
looking at the
clock, I start over

so much time has
passed, and is equaled
by whatever
split-second is present

from this
moment this moment
is the first.

Find a place where you are comfortable and reflect on life. For me, it is a walk in nature. I took the following picture in Jasper National Park several years ago. I could sit on the edge of this lake, soaking in the majesty and reflecting on how I made life better in the next first moment.

DSC00379

Nature and Progress

Several years ago, Kathy and I drove through the Crowsnest Pass to Spokane. I stopped at an overlook in Brocket. The Pikani Nation (Aapátohsipikáni, Piikáni, and Pekuni) people live there. The sight was awe-inspiring with a contrast between Nature and a wind power farm designed with precision suggesting humans control the environment. How different this idea is from farming in tradtional ways. Nature humbles me when I pause to understand and be grateful for my place and role in it, not as an outsider colonizing and domesticating.

Progress creates an illusion we control Nature. It humbles me when it reminds me that is not a true picture. It is humbling when I pause to understand what a small place I hold in its complete picture, a picture too large to be fully grasped by individuals and collectives.

It is times such as these, not limited to the pandemic, Nature holds the upper hand. It is a Creator, which can be understood in religious terms and in spiritual terms.

Acting as backdrop;

Mountains, sky, clouds,

Providing depth and breadth,

Contrasting our progress.

Human products,

Made by mortal hands,

Marching winged machines,

Small, almost indistinct on this canvas.

Without pattern, yet poetic

River meandering a perfect line,

Finding its way,

Unseen hands guiding,

Winding its way home.

Brocket 1

“Will you teach your children what we have taught our children? That the earth is our mother? What befalls the earth befalls all the sons of the earth. This we know: the earth does not belong to man, man belongs to the earth. All things are connected like the blood that unites us all. Man did not weave the web of life, he is merely a strand in it. Whatever he does to the web, he does to himself. One thing we know: our god is also your god. The earth is precious to him and to harm the earth is to heap contempt on its creator.” Chief Seattle

Albert Einstein

via Albert Einstein

Mrs. Vee offers a quote from Einstein and a headshot. The quote suggests imagination, which is unbounded, is more important than knowledge, which is limited in scope.

Those who educate provide “images for [the] imagination and for forming…memory….to grasp the ‘circumstances’ [we live in] in their infinite variety.” I use the word educate purposely, as each of us learns in settings other than schools. Schools are formal places where a particular agenda is followed.

Over the last few months, I struggled as I transitioned from having taught and wanting to teach. I define myself as a teacher. I taught one term at a small, private, Christian-based university. I applied twice for a tenure track position and have been ignored both times. I think there are multiple things at play and will deal with three. First, others my age are ready to retire. They say things like “I worked to get to this stage.” I understand teaching as a calling, so never worked to get to this stage. Second, it turns out, in the eyes of some, I am the wrong kind of Christian. I am Catholic, yet I am probably, in the eyes of many Catholics, the wrong kind of Catholic. Third, I limited my imagination. I think this is natural. I have not been here before and have few images for imagination. I only knew myself as a teacher, limiting the possibilities of what I could do and who I was still becoming.

The last point is essential. I mentioned this in the last two posts. I have been writing and am invited by others in to collaborate. I can imagine myself as a writer. I don’t know what kind of writer and what other doors it will open up. But, I have been here before.

Kathy reminds me frequently that “when one door closes, another opens.” What I have to recall is I do not know what will happen as I walk through the new door. I can imagine it and, with imagining, new worlds open up and hope exists.

Mount Robson 1 August 2019

This is the front side of Mt. Robson. I have never seen the backside. I can imagine what it might look like based on what I see and what I have read about it. There is a glacier and lake on the mountain. Based on past experience (history), I can imagine sitting on the edge of the lake, like I can imagine sitting and writing the next poem, article, book chapter, a book about teaching in the best little school in the world, etc. I get to imagine my life, so I don’t have to be the right kind of anything for administrators who can only operate in binary terms.

Biblical Wisdom Day 40 last post on it

via Biblical Wisdom Day 40 last post on it

This is my opportunity to thank you Jonathan for following me for several years and sharing a number of my blog posts through his reblogs.

Several years ago, I met Parker Palmer and thanked him for introducing me to other writers and thinkers, including Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the Lutheran priest who refused to not speak out against the Nazis, was imprisoned, and executed hours before the Third Reich was defeated.

In the original post shared by Jonathan, there are several questions to consider and reflection activities and this brings me back to Parker Palmer who introduced me to Thomas Merton who I read extensively.

Yesterday, Kathy and I went shopping at a small store where we are visiting. It has a Christian component to part of their retail focus with many books and I purchased two more Thomas Merton books. Kathy said, “you don’t have them all” after I joked “there is no such thing as too many Thomas Merton books.” The one book is similar to the how the shared post is structured. It is called A Course in Christian Mysticism and has reflective questions to consider in written and oral ways. The second book is called When the Trees Say Nothing: Writings on Nature.

The second book has a short postscript from a section in Hagia Sophia called Emblems of a Season of Fury (p. 61), referring to the etymology of wisdom. It is as follows:

There is in all visible things an invisible fecundity, a dimmed light, a meek namelessness, a hidden wholeness.  This mysterious Unity and Integrity is Wisdom, the Mother of all, Natura naturans. There is in all things an inexhaustible sweetness and purity, a silence that is a fount of action and joy.  It rises up in wordless gentleness and flows out to me from the unseen roots of all created being, welcoming me tenderly, saluting me with indescribable humility.  This is at once my own being, my own nature, and the Gift of my Creator’s Thought and Art within me, speaking as Hagia Sophia, speaking as my sister, Wisdom.

I am awakened, I am born again at the voice of this my Sister, sent to me from the depths of the divine fecundity.

We are not outside of Nature and it is not outside of us. We are unified and integrated with the wonder and fertility of Nature, not separate.

Skyline Regional Park February 13

We took this picture in Phoenix. You can see the urban piece in the top half of the picture just short of the far hill. Often, I do not have to go far to recognize Nature is there in the urban sprawl. It does not have to be somewhere exotic and distant. It is where we each find meaningful moments of solitude with and without the company of others. It is near at hand. For me, the questions always centre around “if it is close at hand, how do I conserve what is immediate? How do I become awake to the divine fecundity in my daily, often busy life?”

 

“He who allows oppression shares the crime.” — Art of Quotation

via “He who allows oppression shares the crime.” — Art of Quotation

Gigi shared a wonderful quote from Desiderius Erasmus Roterodamus (known as Erasmus) who was a Catholic priest during the Reformation. He is a humanist and spent little time as a priest and is considered to be a reformer who remained in the church , questioning its abuses. In some ways, he was Thomas Merton (the link is to an article by James Martin, SJ) some 300 years in advance.

I had not read Erasmus before last fall. His works were part of my syllabus for an educational foundations class I taught. I have since purchased a book with his essays and find him refreshing in many ways in today’s context.

When we ignore things that are improper and inhumane, we become complicit. This includes my place in Nature. It is hard to speak in today’s world without fear of being attacked. How I undersgtand the world and my presence in it, is less in terms of polarities and in continous emergence. Even the past holds uncertainties. When I sit and reflect/meditate, I often find phenomena emerge I did not experience in previous moments of reflection/meditation.

It is the same in my reading. I am re-reading Wendell Berry and find so much about how he speaks about Nature can be applied to teaching. We are stewards in this world and this includes stewards for our children and grandchildren. We are not seperate from Nature, even in urban settings. How do we preserve and conserve Nature for our children and grandchildren? Economy comes from the Greek word oikos, meaning household. How do we keep our household in order?

Gulls at Neurotsis Inlet

I took this picture in the river valley here in Edmonton. It is a beautiful place to walk and a historic, cultural, and natural gathering place for people and animals as demonstrated by the terns. Not in the picture are the people who gather to walk and sit along the river.

In the Quiet Curve of the Evening

Life is uncertain. One thing I am certain of is unconditional love of a Creator and those close to me. I cannot explain or describe what they mean, but I have faith they exist.

Last weekend, Kathy and I participated in a special event for her niece. She was commissioned as a minister of the United Church of Canada. We sang this hymn during the celebrations. I am not sure how to credit the song.  Julie Howard wrote the lyrics, but I did not find links for her. As I head into the Sabbath, the words say it all for me.

In the quiet curve of evening,
in the sinking of the days,
in the silky void of darkness, you are there.
In the lapses of my breathing,
in the space between my ways,
in the crater carved by sadness, you are there.
You are there, you are there, you are there.

In the rests between the phrases,
in the cracks between the stars,
in the gaps between the meaning, you are there.
In the melting down of endings,
in the cooling of the sun,
in the solstice of the winter, you are there.
You are there, you are there, you are there.

In the mystery of my hungers,
in the silence of my rooms,
in the cloud of my unknowing, you are there.
In the empty cave of grieving,
in the desert of my dreams,
in the tunnel of my sorrow, you are there.
You are there, you are there, you are there.

As Kingfishers Catch Fire

I was reading blogs and came across a quote which, in turn, led me to this beautiful poem by Gerard Manley Hopkins. I enjoy the mystery of the universe around me. Part of that mystery is the role we play and how we come to learn it or, for that matter, accept it. Thomas Merton, the Trappist Monk, in No Man is an Island, wrote some people are called and hear their call clearly. We are this person, this being, and are called to serve the world in these roles. He quipped for some the calling is to search and never find a calling. Hopkins and Merton were influenced by various schools of mysticism and this takes me back to the mystery of life as I head off on my digital sabbath.

As kingfishers catch fire, dragonflies draw flame;

As tumbled over rim in roundy wells

Stones ring; like each tucked string tells, each hung bell’s

Bow swung finds tongue to fling out broad its name;

Each mortal thing does one thing and the same:

Deals out that being indoors each one dwells;

Selves — goes itself; myself it speaks and spells,

Crying Whát I dó is me: for that I came.

I say móre: the just man justices;

Keeps grace: thát keeps all his goings graces;

Acts in God’s eye what in God’s eye he is —

Chríst — for Christ plays in ten thousand places,

Lovely in limbs, and lovely in eyes not his

To the Father through the features of men’s faces.

A Child Sits

Several years ago, during a lively family discussion about war, I was asked where I stood. Peace is simple, yet apparently unachievable. I am opposed to war on the grounds there is a Commandment: “Thou shall not kill!” This underpins all Abrahamic traditions which guide Judeo-Christian and Islamic faiths. Furthermore, this premise is central to the Golden Rule which is universal.  Who suffers? Inevitably, it is the weakest, the most vulnerable.

A child sits–

Shivers

Is it the cold?

Hunger

Loneliness, fear

So fragile and weak

In desperate need.

Amidst war’s carnage–

No refuge

Only chaos

Military heroes wreak havoc

Who is the toughest?

The biggest bully?

Kick sand in a child’s eyes.

There is no right side

Real courage

Begs and pleads?

Stop

Wanton, senseless

Violence and death!

Who gains?

It does not take a hero to order bombs lobbed into civilian areas of cities. Nor does it take a hero to hide behind women and children when bombs are lobbed. Last night, I heard a talking head on TV ask who has the moral high ground. Is there really one when the objective of both sides is to punish the most vulnerable. What a silly question. There is no moral high ground in war only criminality.

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