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Tag Archives: teacher as transformer

SOLITUDE

via SOLITUDE

Lara provides wonderful images of her neighbourhood, gardens, and pets. This post is one with a single picture and a Khalil Gibran quote about solitude.

Solitude is not loneliness. Teaching can be a lonely profession often done in solitude, largely away from other adults. I was fortunate. For most of my career, I taught in proximity to other adults and this provided rich conversations and insights for reflection to improve my teaching.

Gibran wrote a poem about children, reminding me students I taught were not my children. My favourite line is “their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow.” As a teacher, I only promised I would do my best to prepare students for tomorrow.

In French, the word retirer means to draw back, like an archer. It is in healthy solitude I gather myself, draw back, and find stability in teaching the next generation.

And a woman who held a babe against her bosom said, Speak to us of Children.

     And he said:

     Your children are not your children.

     They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.

     They come through you but not from you,

     And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

     You may give them your love but not your thoughts,

     For they have their own thoughts.

     You may house their bodies but not their souls,

     For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.

     You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.

     For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

     You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.

     The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite, and He bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far.

     Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness;

     For even as He loves the arrow that flies, so He loves also the bow that is stable.

Where do we find solitude? I find it in Nature, in writing, in reading, in teaching, and in living. It is not a place. It is a relationship to life, others, and things.

DSC00320

Kathy took this picture in Jasper National Park. The roots of the trees form steps and a path up from the water falls we were visiting.

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Dr. Seuss

via Dr. Seuss

Heather offers three Dr. Seuss quotes. I am particularly taken by the third one, which calls on me to step with care and tact.

Regardless of where I am, I am with people, in the world, and in relationships. It is easy to take these for granted. Often, children and youth embrace differences more readily than adults.

Through the use of satire, made up words, and unusual characters, Theodor Geisel took a stand against bullies, hypocrites, and demagogues. I think his characters depict pluralism we live in. Yes, there is no Lorax, Yertle the Turtle, or Cat in the Hat, but we can appreciate and defer to the beauty of their differences. Even within  differences, I find more similarities and common ground with others.

We need this in the world we co-inhabit with other beings, sentient and non-sentient. Too often, people who masquerade as leaders tell us to see difference as problematic, to see Nature as something to exploit, and to separate ourselves from our better angels. Perhaps our better angels are Thing 1 and Thing 2.

298x322 Unique Dr Seuss Images Ideas Dr Seuss Art, Dr

I retrieved this image from Clip Art Mag.

Leonard Cohen

We did not get a chance to see Leonard Cohen live, but I have listened to him for a long time. I bought Songs of Leonard Cohen a couple of years after it was released.

One of the songs on the album was Sisters of Mercy, which Cohen wrote here in Edmonton. As he told the story, he sat in his hotel room, looking out the window, and below he saw nuns walking to and from their convent. He determined they belonged to the Sisters of Mercy and wrote this song.

Leonard Cohen also wrote Hallelujah. My favourite version is by kd lang, another Canadian artist. We have many songs from various stages of her career.

Kathy and I have attended concerts by kd lang (another great Canadian artist) and her version is spell-binding. She has a pure voice and sings with so much power I have goose bumps.

Behind your image…

via Behind your image…

Natalie‘s beautiful image and John O’Donohue‘s wonderful blessings serve as reminders that life is to be lived in extra-sensory ways. It is about the mystery we cannot see, touch, and feel about how a flower simply exists to be a flower..

When I have faith in more than what I experience and the mysteries of what that means in life, I feel free to live life and embrace the mysteries of living. Sometimes, it is the simplest forms that escape our attention. It reminds me of the following quote from Meister Eckhardt, which can mean more in a person’s than I can ever know.

“If the only prayer you said was thank you, that would be enough.”

Thanking others as part of being alive and aware of their presence is a simple and profound prayer.

A Simpler Life

Kathy and I are doing some house cleaning and it is interesting what we find.

Kathy looked through some papers we had stored and found poetry I wrote in 1969, in Grade 10. There are things that are consistent in life and one of them is seeking moments of solitude and silence, which I wrote about in this poem. I took liberties and edited the poem, orginally called The Simple Life.

It is good to be alone at times,

Sheltered by comforting trees,

The wind singing a song,

Here, I experience freedom and peace,

For the moment, worries set aside.

Minnows dart at the water’s edge,

Dancing between light and shadows,

Seemingly, without a care,

There, they experience home’s safety;

Its primal call.

Here, this is me,

I experience a simpler life;

An unseen hand beckons me,

I wave to this simpler life,

Enjoying it each time I return.

I took this picture in Waterton Lake National Park several years ago. I came around a corner and there was a doe and two fawn. I could have touched the one fawn it was so close, but it was separated from its mother. I stood as still as possible, moving slowly to get the camera ready. The mother whistled to the one fawn and waited until the young one found its way over to her, back to the safety of where it belonged.

Doors

The other night, we watched a re-run of the Montana episode of Parts Unknown hosted by the late Anthony Bourdain. I enjoy watching the series and this episdoe about Montana drew to it as we have visited Montana several times.

Bourdain ate with a poet I had not heard of before: Jim Harrison. He spoke about being part of nature and how he feels small under the big sky of Montana. I looked him up and felt I should have heard of him before. He was a celebrated and well-published poet.

I chose this poem as it speaks to how we create binary choices in a complex world and universe filled with a myriad of choices that we follow depending on the spirit. For example, we often think we have to separate the economy and the environment.

The etymology of economy is from the Greek, oikos, meaning household and suggests keeping a good house. We only have to think about animals and how they do not soil their living quarters to understand how economy and ecology are related.

Harrison created wonderful imagery about the sky being a door never closed, but the sun and moon are not doorknobs. He lived in Montana for years where the sky is big and stretches on, as does the land.

I had to look up Dersu Uzala. It was a movie made about a man who lived his life integrated with nature and the universe, who dies when he moves inside.

I’m trying to create an option for all
these doors in life. You’re inside
or out, outside or in. Of late, doors
have failed us more than the two-party system
or marriages comprising only one person.
We’ve been fooled into thousands of dualisms
which the Buddha says is a bad idea.
Nature has portals rather than doors.
There are two vast cottonwoods near a creek
and when I walk between them I shiver.
Winding through my field of seventy-seven
large white pine stumps from about 1903
I take various paths depending on spirit.
The sky is a door never closed to us.
The sun and moon aren’t doorknobs.
Dersu Uzala slept outside for forty-five years.
When he finally moved inside he died.

I took this picture several years ago as I looked from Alberta towards Montana across the field, with fresh bales of hay in the forefront and the mountains and sky forming the backdrop.

What Have I Learned so Far?

I enjoy Mary Oliver and questions she asks in her poems. Living is a question, as I am uncertain what will happen, even in the next second, and how I will respond/react.

How we each live is the answer to a Mary Oliver question from The Summer Day: Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life? Do I sow seeds of kindness? Do I somehow make the world a better place, without understanding what that means in advance, perhaps ever?

As I rise from meditation and prayer, I do I move in a mindful way, more attentive to my words and acts. Meditation and prayer help make the world holy, more whole as I attend to it. We each live Living in our particular concrete and real world of human relationships with each other and the world.

Meditation is old and honorable, so why should I
not sit, every morning of my life, on the hillside,
looking into the shining world? Because, properly
attended to, delight, as well as havoc, is suggestion.
Can one be passionate about the just, the
ideal, the sublime, and the holy, and yet commit
to no labor in its cause? I don’t think so.

All summations have a beginning, all effect has a
story, all kindness begins with the sown seed.
Thought buds toward radiance. The gospel of
light is the crossroads of — indolence, or action.

Be ignited, or be gone.

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