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Merry Christmas

I grew up in Northern Alberta and Christmas was a special time of the year. I recall cold winter nights. I mean they were cold–almost minus 40 at night. Our windows upstairs were partly frosted over and on moonlit nights the light kept me awake or that is what I told others.

During Advent, my mom and older brothers walked across the street for evening Mass. The younger ones, including me, went to bed. I did not fall asleep right away and would watch out the window for them to come home. I thought no one saw me, but my Mom would come up and tell me to go to bed.

The other experience I recall is the Northern Lights and how you could hear them as they lit up the sky. We don’t see them very often in Edmonton with the urban light. When we spent time at the farm at Christmas, we heard and saw them there. Again, on cold nights we heard the train (about a mile away) and it sounded like it was coming right through the house.

I wrote this poem several years ago about the magic provided by the Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis) and Christmas. What message was in those celestial colours and sounds? As a child, I thought the sky talked to me and told me a creation story.

Small children–

Breathlessly wait,

Peer through frosted window

Soak it in.

Heavens ripple–

Lights undulate;

A celebratory fury

An indisputable guide.

This old house speaks;

Nature answers–

The heavens crackle

Sweet symphonic sounds shimmer.

Earth’s floor–

Blanketed in white

Celestial colours speak to me

Captures young senses.

A vivid winter scene,

A sensual, sensory palette,

Reminds me–

Christ’s Mass is here.

pic_wonder_northern_lights_lg

The Guest House

I submitted my dissertation draft to my committee chair and have time to blog. I hope I will be able to continue on a more regular basis.

I have many favorite poets and poems. Rumi and this poem are examples. When one engages in a creative process, emotions well up and being human is a guest house for them. Each day brings something new and mixes emotions together.

Creativity is a conversational journey with one’s self as we turn inward to interpret and express what is meaningful to our self. It is in the creative process we allow some glimpse of who we are for others and the world to see.

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
As an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they’re 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.

 

 

If you want to write or paint,then do it !

If you want to write or paint,then do it !.

As I get ready for a Sabbath break this week, I am also shifting my focus a bit. I found this post the other day and was not sure what it meant at the time. Today, it is suggesting more focus on dissertation writing and less on blogging.

I will visit blogs and post less in the next month . I want to deliver a clean, preliminary writing of the first three chapters by January 20. I am re-organizing more than writing fresh.

Thoreau‘s quote speaks to me. The world is a canvas and I am exploring them both. My topic is the phenomenology of teaching and how becoming a particular teacher is a continuing process. Phenomenology is wondering about phenomena we encounter, including ourselves and other humans, and how we experience encounters.

Parker Palmer suggests truth, from the word troth, reveals itself through living in the world, relating to its sentient and non-sentient beings.

HIROSHIMA, JAPAN IMAGES: THE SIMPLEST THINGS IN LIFE

HIROSHIMA, JAPAN IMAGES: THE SIMPLEST THINGS IN LIFE.

I mention my favourite poets regularly i.e. Mary Oliver and Wendell Berry and want to mention my favourite prose writer Paulo Coehlo. This post begins with a quote from Manuscript Found in Accra asking we let the simplest things reveal there extraordinary nature. The photography underscores this point.

It is in the ordinary the extraordinary is revealed is one of my favourite quotes from Thich Nhat Hanh. When I am mindful, present, and attentive, I sense the extraordinary I rush past in my haste to get to the next moment.

Mindful

Mary Oliver is one of my favourite poets and this is likely my favourite poem that she wrote.

Whenever, I get stuck this is a poem I turn to and get unstuck. I had bogged down in my writing and it simply was not moving. This morning, as l listened, ideas flowed into my conscious view. Most of what I was looking for was waiting to be seen.

Interestingly, I did not rush and write things down. I took time, finished sitting, and by the time I wrote things down more appeared. I often look for things in places they are not and they appear as part of what is waiting to be seen.

Poetry’s beauty is it does not always speak directly to what I am looking for, but approaches me in different ways and I encounter it afresh in those moments.

Every day
I see or hear
something
that more or less

kills me
with delight,
that leaves me
like a needle

in the haystack
of light.
It was what I was born for –
to look, to listen,

to lose myself
inside this soft world –
to instruct myself
over and over

in joy,
and acclamation.
Nor am I talking
about the exceptional,

the fearful, the dreadful,
the very extravagant –
but of the ordinary,
the common, the very drab,

the daily presentations.
Oh, good scholar,
I say to myself,
how can you help

but grow wise
with such teachings
as these –
the untrimmable light

of the world,
the ocean’s shine,
the prayers that are made
out of grass?

Riprap

Yesterday, I walked downtown and bought some books at Aunties Bookstore. It offers a combination of new and used. I wandered and found an eclectic riprap of books. There were poetry, philosophy, and spirituality books mixed in.

Gary Snyder wrote a poem using that word: riprap. I felt a little that way as I wrote today as I tried to fit new words in among the old words. The old words are somewhat concrete and the new ones found it challenging to fit into the spaces. Actually, some of the new words were old and were previously used by others who went before. Even those words were not always easily fitted into the seams I tried squeezing them into. But, I tried not to force too hard out of concern I might break the space wide open and let something else come flooding in.

We probably live that way at times. We fit the new among the old. It causes some perplexity this complexity.

Lay down these words

Before your mind like rocks.

placed solid, by hands

In choice of place, set

Before the body of the mind

in space and time:

Solidarity of bark, leaf, or wall

riprap of things:

Cobble of milky way,

straying planets,

These poems, people,

lost ponies with

Dragging saddles

and rocky sure-foot trails.

The worlds like an endless

four-dimensional

Game of Go.

ants and pebbles

In the thin loam, each rock a word

a creek-washed stone

Granite: ingrained

with torment of fire and weight

Crystal and sediment linked hot

all change, in thoughts,

As well as things.

The Road Not Taken

Several asked asked  several times what I would do after the end of the school year. There is no set plan, but we spent a fair amount of time on the weekend beginning a website and some design of a logo for my next adventure. This is an opportunity to continue with several loves: learning, writing, and try make a difference, albeit a small one in the world. There is no certainty of where it takes us. Unlike the bureaucracies I tangled with my entire adult life, this is an opportunity to, as Robert Frost said, “take the road less traveled.” Where I go will not be planned out, but will be an opportunity to make a mark on the trail that others might find and follow.

I get to do this with Kathy. She is much sharper than I am when it comes to the details of a website, planning a logo, and setting the direction the first steps need to take. I get to combine a number of things I love deeply in this new adventure.

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
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