Monday, February 26, 2007

The Invitation by Oriah Mountain Dreamer

The other day I was looking for poetry pages and stumbled upon the poetry of Oriah. Her work is absolutely amazing. In reading "The Invitation" I discovered that what I want to know about people, especially those I love deeply, was something that she felt too. Oriah expressed the desire to know the soul of someone so much better than I ever could that I want to share her poem with you. She has other writings and poetry on her webpage, so I hope you will go there discover the richness of her work.

The Invitation

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 shrivelled 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
to be realistic
to 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.
If you can be faithless
and therefore trustworthy.

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,

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.

© Mountaindreaming, from the book The Invitation published by HarperSanFrancisco, 1999 All rights reserved

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Soul Songs of Life

Sometimes rambling thoughts carry me to places I've never been. Sometimes those places are instinctively recognized. They feel like a coming home to an awareness or an awakening. When this happens my whole being sort of sings with truth and life. Such was the case this morning.

This morning's news had an article on the things that men fear. That started me thinking. My thoughts ran through many subjects. The article said men fear rejection and looking foolish in public. I know people who won't reach out to others because of such fears. So my thoughts started in the direction of men, women and their relationships. They stumbled through the ways that men and women focus on one another. They stumbled through sex. The idea that sex is a gift from God was considered.

The Eastern philosophies consider sex a pathway to the divine. The Western ones need to see Christ in them. This is not easy until you consider what Christ did with others. He saw, loved and knew each individual whose life he touched. He tended to their needs. We need to do that in our relationships. We don't do enough of it in our marriages. At least not in Western marriages. And I thought about the times when I felt my ex partner meeting mine.

Then I wandered through one of the better times of my marriage when the environment was not the bedroom or the kitchen and was wonderfully united in love. I thought about how even though I have anger at some of the things that happened during the breakup and divorce I still have memories that mean something to me. That is the part that makes divorce so hard. You have good things that hold you to someone and bad things that tear you apart.

Taking a look back at where I'd been mentally I was amazed at how much I had thought about and how broad the mental wandering had been. Somehow through that mental conversation I ended up telling myself that, "Life changes constantly and broadly. If we aren't in a state of change we aren't living. And if we don't recognize that change in all its breadth and embrace it, we aren't living fully." And my soul rang! May the dawn of your day sing to you as beautifully as mine did.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Prayer Books

Because Lent is coming our church is doing a group of home studies on prayer again. This time we are reading "Becoming Jesus' Prayer: Transforming your life through the Lord's Prayer." I picked up my copy on the way out of breakfast at the fellowship hall.

Yesterday's poetry workshop was held in the church library. While there I tried to talk about "Genesis Meditations" by Neil Douglas-Klotz. Not remembering his name, I went looking in the card catalog just in case we had a copy. We didn't but we had another book under his name. "Prayers of the Cosmos," which I have sworn to get around to reading, is translated by him and has commentary too. The description of the book on the dust cover says it has body prayers that will, "take us beyond reading and understanding the teachings of Jesus by teaching us to experience the sound and feeling of Christ's words." This sounded so enticing to me that I checked the copy out from the library, not being able to wait through the task of purchasing a copy of my own. Because the material in this book are copyright protected I feel awkward about even typing a sample here. Instead I am sending you off to read the Amazon site where you can "look inside" the book and read the first prayer here.

Because, as I've mentioned, things sometimes come to my attention in threes, I think it is significant that I am now enmeshed in three prayer books. I have the Book of Common Prayer, the Lenten study book "Becoming Jesus' Prayer", and "Prayers of the Cosmos." It seems to me that my prayer life will be taking a step forward. It has been rather sporadic of late even though I know that I need prayer daily to keep my connection to God vibrant. I hope that the upcoming weeks and studies of prayer will encourage better prayer habits in my spiritual life and daily routine. If you are reading this and have any good prayer books or individual prayers you would like to share I hope you will. Peace! Hope! & Joy!

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Poetry Workshop

St. Mark's Episcopal church sponsored a wonderful poetry workshop at Church of Reconciliation Episcopal today. Attending and directing it was Enedina Vasquez who is a wonderful poet and a really good glass artist. We also had the Reverend Mary Earle who is loved by many Episcopalians in my church and at St. Mark's. She too is a wonderfully spiritual poet and a very good preacher. The Sharing Spiritual Practices Workshop Saturdays which they are leading are a real blessing. I learned more about writing poetry as a connection to my spirit, my past and my growth in 4 hours than I ever learned in school. From the moment they started the air seemed to breathe words and I found myself writing poetry even before the writing exercises began.

After the nice opening and prayer, Mary Earle read a couple of poems and then handed the program over to Enedina. Enedina read mostly from her own works and they were wonderful multidimensional paintings of people she knew growing up and how life had changed them and her. In her poetry you could hear the whole community speaking as she tied everyone together.

Then we started looking at words. We started with "Door." We described it and told what it did and how it sounded. When we were done the dry write board was covered with words that tied door to images from our lives and experiences. After that she asked us to write our own ribbon poem. To help us keep a ribbon in focus she gave us each a ribbon of paper and we wrote our poems upon it. Some people used both sides. Mine took just one and revisited the childhood birthday story.


The ribbon wrapped around the gift for the birthday party.
It wasn't my party and the ribbon tied me
to the car with fear of being at the wrong house.
Even today that ribbon binds the gifts I want to give
Locked inside the loops that only I can untangle
to be there in the right place with the right offering.

We shared some of our poems and all were good. Many were so beautiful that we were thrilled and oohed and aahed with delight. Then after a short break we were invited to step out to the Reconciliation garden to write about it and how it spoke to us. We were also instructed to write about a garden we knew. I wish I could remember all the ones that came out of that exercise. Some of them were truly gifted writing and worthy of publishing.

Spirits in the Garden

Swirling mass of white dots
not quite seen out of
the corner of my eye.
This is the closest I can get
to seeing the spirits
gathered here.
I'd heard about them from others
and wanted to meet one,
the fantasy of my heart
connecting with the perpetuity of God

Green and lush with a wind
that whispers through
The water pouring out of
and onto the stone of life
in a world so hardened by greed
eons pass before it is broken down.

Down to the dust
from which we were made
and to which we return.
Scattered here to remember
and remind
those left behind.

That life goes on
connected through death's door
to a garden where
Masses of swirling white dots meet
not quite seen
out of the corner of my eye.

That poem led to another where the garden was more inside, more personal and better known. I wasn't the only one who came up with more than one poem in that garden. We were encouraged to consider these ongoing works; works in progress. Enedina asked us to keep on working on these and to keep in touch with her. She really liked what we had done and the uniqueness of each soul there was beautifully displayed in a sharing of our love and joy in the life we had lived and even the tears as we conquered the hard times of sorrow and loss.

Many Colored Garden

In the garden of my soul you'll find
shy violets
red roses that climb
small blue flowers whose name I can't recall

Such are the colors of my heart,
mixed in with the green of life
and the brown of death and decay
from which soil all new life
must take nourishment and grow.

Breaking through the door to greet the Son
is the struggle that makes
life worth living for
If life only grew from life we might
never know death and if
we didn't know death
Eternal life would have no meaning.

Oh but that struggle to
rise above death, dust, failure, sin
is SO hard
That when at last I
see the Son I
weep with joy
My tears watering the
shy violets
red roses that climb
and the blue flowers
Whose name I can't recall.

The next workshop will be one on making scared spaces and is scheduled for March. I hope to be there. I've been looking for a way to build an alter in my small apartment and am looking forward to finding a chance to bring God closer in my home.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007


Lately I've been wondering if I will be solo the rest of my life and if I can come to terms with it. Still not sure...God seems to be saying that I need to be able to take care of myself first. So I am pondering that idea and life alone for a while. Got in the mood to write poetry the other night and this is what came out.

Solitary, solitaire,
living her life alone,
one among many.
Shining like a beacon,
sparkle from within
highlighting her uniqueness,
she reflects the lights
of those around her.
With all this reflected light,
can a solitaire be truly solitary?

That doesn't say it all but it's a start.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Small sitemeter landmark

Like many of my friends who blog, I'm fascinated by the numbers and locations of people who read my blog. Sometimes they stay for several pages and I always find that flattering. Two days ago my visit count passed the 1,000 mark. Yay!

One thing I wish the site meter showed is the length of the visit for people who only visit one page. By the nature of its setup, site meter can only log visit length if you look at more than one page. So I know that some of my friends check me out for a few minutes because they are so regular and check the comments to read my responses.

The nature of surfers is interesting. From what site meter shows most of the visits I get are from friends. Next come those who are doing Google searches. Occasionally I find a person who has managed to be an invisible surfer. These people have no ISP reported and the referring page, is often missing. Looks to me like they have a good security system.

Recently I noticed a new thing. A couple of visits not only had no ISP and referring pages but showed the entrance and exit clicks as I haven't figured out what that means yet. I use Firefox and Eudora so occasionally when I click on a link in my email Internet Explorer will be forced to open showing a blank page addressed It makes me wonder if there is any connection. If you have any information on this and would care to share it please feel free to comment.

So I guess my next milestone will be either the next thousand visits or maybe a record number of visits in one day.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Carnival of Hope and a sigh of relief!

Carnival of Hope is up at Susan's place and I'm happy to be included. Thanks, Susan!

It's been a chaotic week full of ups and downs. The bright spots include my birthday, doing morning prayer, and some lovely responses from friends to requests I've made. The frustrating ones are the poor choices in behavior some of the students I see daily have made. It feels really bad when no less than 5 kids get sent to the Principal's office and one of them ends up in ISS. I don't like feeling like an ogre.

So this weekend I'm going to stay relaxed, eat lots of chocolate, watch a movie (Mission Impossible 3) and try to get some school work done. I have about 4 chapters, 3 articles, two tests to examine and a good book to start. And somewhere in the middle of all that I have to do my taxes and finish the applications for student teaching. Wish me peace and productivity guys, I surely need it.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Birthday Report

Going to work was a good thing! My birthday was announced in the daily bulletin so all day long people were wishing me, "Happy Birthday!" One of the talented people in CMC created a handmade birthday card and everyone signed it. Two other cards I received were handmade too. One was from a student who, I was convinced, really didn't like me. That was a great surprise. The other was from another teacher and came with a piece of chocolate cake. Yum! The last card came from the lovely woman who teaches the reading resource room. She included a bag of specialty chocolates. All day long felt so cared for that it was wonderful. I knew that one of the reasons I wanted to go into education was that it was a caring environment. I had just forgotten that they care for the teachers too. Wow! So I'm a year older and a whole day happier!

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

A Personal Celebration

A few years back, when I worked for EDS Corporation, I would take a day of vacation every February 7th. Now that I'm a teacher I don't have that luxury. So today, instead of staying home and doing things to spoil myself, I'm going to work instead and have made adaptations to make the day brighter. You see, today is my birthday...and like any child I love having a day that is all about me. Yes, I admit it. I'm a child at heart. You can't get me out of toy stores. I love to start sentences with the word "I" and I love presents. (g)

On the present side, my mom sent me a check and my friend JSD and her wife are spending a Sunday with me later this month. Those are lovely presents, money to pamper myself with and friends to enjoy being with. Life couldn't get much better...although I'd still like that day off. (g)

To make myself feel more like I'm partying, today I am dressing nice for work. I haven't worn a pretty dress since last year. So today I'm dressed in a ruffled skirt and lacy sweater and have put on some dressy earrings. I'm even wearing stockings. I hope the kids don't fall out of their chairs in shock.

Last night I woke up about 1:30 and lost two hours of sleep so I hope I can make it through today. I will be sure to have coffee available all day.

Oh! And yesterday evening I went to the student teaching informational meeting and have plenty to do to prepare for that. I'm a bit excited and also a little scared. So wish me luck in my assignment when next fall comes and keep me in your prayers. Thanks! And "Happy Birthday, to me! Happy Birthday, to me!" La la la...

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Recipe for Lemonade

It's been a crazy week full of new experiences. I'm not sure all of them are growth oriented but then that's up to me isn't it. When I look at the students I teach and how they struggle to make sense of their lives it all comes down to what you do with what you are given. Not all of my students are children and not all of them are ready to listen. Even so, I persevere in trying to help them make lemonade.

My schedule changed on Monday. I was directed to help out in a different classroom for 2 periods a day where the teacher was not having much success managing his classrooms of 6th graders. They have put two aids in his classroom to help him cover 4 periods and a special ed teacher comes in during another. This man would be a good teacher if he was more realistic about what his job wants of him. He wants to be the teacher of high quality knowledge to kids. He doesn't have kids who are ready for that. What he might be better off doing is looking at where his students are and helping them up that ladder. Instead he resists modifying the information he teaches to their level and says, "I feel like I am giving a substandard product if I do that." Well the reality of that is, he teaches so far over their heads that he teaches them nothing and they get no product at all.

On Tuesday I interviewed the assistant principal at the school I have been doing field experiences in. This was for my Early Childhood Development course and I learned a huge amount while doing that interview. Almost as important as what I learned was the respect I gained for that A.P.'s knowledge and people skills. He is and will be a good administrator. This is the school I hope to do my student teaching at. After that, should a position be open, I hope to be seriously considered by them. At the very least I hope to get some first rate recommendations from the people I've had frequent contact with.

Yesterday was one of those days when you hope things will go well because it is the end of the week. Instead the schedule got flexed all over the place due to teacher absences and I ended up gaining experience in some areas I have never hoped to. The BMC or ISS monitor needed to take some time off. The assistant principal told my new assigned teacher that he hoped to have both myself and the other aid help out in this area. We ran it by the special ed director and got reassigned temporarily with the addition of one more aid to the mix. So I went into BMC during 3rd & 4th periods. I ate lunch on the job. When that stint was done I ran down to help another teacher cover 2 periods of 8th grade science while the regular teacher was at an ARD. Then I ran back to the regular schedule I started on Monday. I ended up taking off 30 minutes early to keep the school from getting in trouble because I hadn't had a lunch break yet. While I was in BMC, I discovered why kids don't mind going there. They get to do very little work and often find their friends keeping them company so it is no real consequence for bad behavior.

That was my week! I don't mind chaos. I don't object to students playing games with me. I do object to outright defiance and disrespect. I do object to being walked through as if I don't exist when I am trying to enforce the rules. So, while I understand that the defiance and walking through me can be as much a game as the sass, I want to work in an elementary setting where I am more likely to find students wanting to try cooperation first. But all in all, I learned a lot during the past week and I think the lessons will come in handy. After all, it wasn't a bad week and I did have some successes. (g)