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Archive for the ‘Social Constructionism’ Category

Recently, my college roommate sent me a link to this site:
Let’s Say Thanks

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Regardless of your thoughts and feelings about the war, we all have an opportunity to send holiday cheer to men and women who will be away from their families and loved ones during this holiday season.

When I think about what I can do–how I can serve “my corner of the the world” (which, as I mentioned is getting larger by the day), I think increasingly about “making peace.”

MAKING PEACE

A voice from the dark called out,
“The poets must give us
imagination of peace, to oust the intense, familiar
imagination of disaster. Peace, not only
the absence of war.”

But peace, like a poem,
is not there ahead of itself,
can’t be imagined before it is made,
can’t be known except
in the words of its making,
grammar of justice,
syntax of mutual aid.

A feeling towards it,
dimly sensing a rhythm, is all we have
until we begin to utter its metaphors,
learning them as we speak.

A line of peace might appear
if we restructured the sentence our lives are making,
revoked its reaffirmation of profit and power,
questioned our needs, allowed
long pauses. . . .

A cadence of peace might balance its weight
on that different fulcrum; peace, a presence,
an energy field more intense than war,
might pulse then,
stanza by stanza into the world,
each act of living
one of its words, each word
a vibration of light–facets
of the forming crystal.

DENISE LEVERTOV –

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Summer Solstice. Today at 2:16. I’ll take the opportunity to introduce another dear friend of mine, Elizabeth Cogburn.

I met Elizabeth and her husband, Bob, their two daughters Robyn Ann and Maria and Elizabeth’s mother, Kathleen Summit, in 1971. I had been on the road for almost a month–my VW squareback crammed with camping equipment and my worldly possessions–en route to Corrales, NM. Having crossed the border from Colorado into New Mexico, I reached the town of Red River, pulled a crumpled piece of paper out of my glove box, found a pay phone and called complete strangers who promptly, and without reservation, invited me to dinner. “We’re just putting on some rice and veggies from the garden, please come and have dinner with us and plan to stay the night. We’re the last house on the Arroyo Seco rim–it’s a funky mud house with blue trim.”

I had never been in New Mexico before and pondered what a “mud” house might look like. Red River was a tourist town with mostly A-frame architecture mixed with a sort of “Wild West” look. When I arrived at the Cogburn’s adobe, I immediately felt at home and as if I had know them forever. It was the beginning of a long friendship and for me, a gathering of soul family. I took dance classes with Eliza-betsy, helped mud the walls of her dance studio, celebrated Full Moons, Lammas, Candlemass, Solstices and Equinoxes. Together with Bob and my friend, Tom, we spent three weeks paddling our kayaks down the Green River from Green River, UT to the confluence with the Colorado River.

In 1982, I made the journey from the Hudson Valley to Albuquerque with my seven month old daughter, Sara. From Albuquerque, we headed north and west toward Mesa Verde. We spent two weeks camping in the wilderness in community with The Cogburn Family and 40 people—celebrating the Summer Solstice, exploring the rich experience of ritual and ceremonial life.

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This is Elizabeth and Kathleen at Mesa Verde at sunrise…

Sara and I shared a tipi with Kathleen, who was a renowned storyteller. It was an amazing experience to spend time in silence, in movement, in dance, in music, in community, in creativity.

This is Kathleen and Sara…

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Elizabetsy inspired my life; taught me the importance of story and of sacred ceremonial–an intentional “pause to reflect.” Over the years, we’ve stayed in touch and bow with gratitude to my friend, my teacher, my daughter’s “Godma” and my companion on the path.

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Lately, I’ve been pondering the prevailing question we ask one another when getting acquainted…”And, what do you do?”

I’ve never found a satisfying answer for this question…possibly because I’ve been self-employed for almost my entire adult life–I did have about 18 months where I received W2 income against commission sales; still essentially I was self-employed. At that time, I didn’t want to say, “I’m about to sell you some Mutual Funds, or an Annuity,” so I would introduce myself as a “consultant” for New York Advisory Group.

Early on, I could say, “I teach at a pre-school for autistic and emotionally disturbed (now a politically incorrect term–it’s what we said then) children.” A year later, I could say, “I teach at the Corrales Community School–a ‘free’ school, patterned after Summerhill.” A year or so later, I could clearly say, “I’m a craftsperson–I make handmade pottery and sell it at galleries and crafts fairs.” That period lasted about thirteen years.

In recent years, it’s gotten much more dicey. WHAT is it that I do? There was a time when I liked to say, “As little as possible…” Which was absolutely untrue.

Then there was the idea of being a “PhB”…a practicing human being. There was also the time when I realized that other cultures are much less interested in what people do; they ask and want to know, “Who are your people?” or, “Where is your village?

Yesterday, the tenants in our office building had to make a decision about a new sign. With zoning regulations and space allocation based on square footage and a border allowance, our sign is 37″ by 10.” Well, my name, my husband’s name and our phone number just about fills the space. How do we find one word, that in bold print sums up what we do? There are many “catch-all” terms like consultant, educator, coach. We’ve tried a few of them in our branding tag lines…“Educating Families for Healthy Futures” and “Coaching for Skillful Living” and “Facilitating Appreciative Relationships.”

Once, years ago, I did a discovery exercise that had something to do with naming your “essence.” I’ve forgotten the details–it involved index cards with nouns and verbs. I do remember what I came up with–“Illuminating Revealer.” What do I do? “I’m an Illuminating Revealer.”

Titles are so handy, yet tell us nothing–“I’m the CEO, CFO, COO, President of, Director of…” When my children were younger, I was identified as “Sara’s mom” or “Grace’s mom” and knew greeted other parents the same way–“Oh, you must be Donna’s mom.”

In the end, what do I do? I’m interested in offering a different way of seeing and being. I’m dedicated to waking people up who want to be awake and to not disturbing those who prefer to stay asleep. I’m like the snooze button on your clock radio…relentless for about an hour…either you’ll wake up and get up, or go back to sleep and give up. To borrow a line from the poem in the post below:

For it is important that awake people be awake,
or a breaking line may discourage them back to sleep;
the signals we give–yes or no, or maybe–
should be clear: the darkness around us is deep.

WILLIAM STAFFORD

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A RITUAL TO READ TO EACH OTHER

If you don’t know the kind of person I am
and I don’t know the kind of person you are
a pattern that others made may prevail in the world
and following the wrong god home we may miss our star.

For there is many a small betrayal in the mind,
a shrug that lets the fragile sequence break
sending with shouts the horrible errors of childhood
storming out to play through the broken dyke.

And as elephants parade holding each elephant’s tail,
but if one wanders the circus won’t find the park,
I call it cruel and maybe the root of all cruelty
to know what occurs but not recognize the fact.

And so I appeal to a voice, to something shadowy,
a remote important region in all who talk:
though we could fool each, we should consider–
lest the parade of our mutual life get lost in the dark.

For it is important that awake people be awake,
or a breaking line may discourage them back to sleep;
the signals we give–yes or no, or maybe–
should be clear: the darkness around us is deep.

WILLIAM STAFFORD

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FROM PROVERBS FROM HELL

You never know what is enough unless you know what is more than enough.

What is now proved was once only imagin’d.

Improvement makes straight roads; but the crooked roads without improvements are roads of Genius.

Sooner murder an infant in its cradle than nurse unacted desires.

The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom.

Eternity is in love with the productions of time.

No bird soars too high, if he soars with his own wings.

If the fool would persist in his folly he would become wise.

Exuberance is Beauty.

WILLIAM BLAKE

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No coming, no going,
No after, no before…

I hold you close to me,
I release you to be so free,

Because I am in you,
and you are in me…
Because I am in you,
and you are in me…

PLUM VILLAGE CHANT

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Lately, there are conversations of death around me. What is it? When will it come? What happens after death? Is it hard? Is there work? Do we come back?

We don’t know when death will come…our own or another’s. How do we understand the suffering that precedes death–how do we acclimate ourselves to impermanence and find acceptance? In our efforts to give comfort those who are dying, who are we comforting? Can we, will we, recognize the signals; the subtleties of communication; the final wishes. Can we, will we, recognize our own clinging–the disharmony of our non-acceptance? What does acceptance mean..what would acceptance look like?

At last I am leaving:
in rainless skies, a cool moon…
pure is my heart

– SENSEKI –

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You live in illusions and the appearance of things.
There is a reality, you are that Reality.
When you recognize this you will realize that you are nothing,
and being nothing, you are everything. That is all.

KALU RINPOCHE

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Yesterday marked the 411th birthday of Rene Descartes who considered himself more a mathematician and scientist than a philosopher. His impulse for philosophy came when he realized that some of his scientific ideas could be considered controversial by the church. In his book, Discourse on Method (1637), Descartes describes the development of his skepticism and capacity to doubt everything, including his own existence. The one thing he could not doubt was the existence of his own thoughts which led him to the statement, “I think, therefore I am.”

Natalie Goldberg, tells a story about her time with Katagiri Roshi that I absolutely love. She says that after spending a whole summer at St. John’s College in Santa Fe, NM studying Descartes’ statement “I think, therefore I am” and not drawing on any secondary sources, she attended a Dharma talk by Katagiri Roshi. He began, “I’ve been studying your Descartes and his idea, ‘I think, therefore I am.’ I’m sure he knew, but forgot to mention, ‘I don’t think, therefore, I’m not.” According to Natalie, at that moment the whole of Western civilization slid off a cliff and she was inspired to diligently explore the “underbelly” of life as she continued to develop writing practice.

At Yoga School, one of our meditation practices is to “be nobody and do nothing.” The first time I heard this, I almost fell off my cushion! How refreshing! At the end of a harried day, to do a strenuous asana practice and then simply let go of everything, everyone, any and all sense of identity, self-importance and thought…ahhh….”I don’t think, therefore, I’m not.” A little jolt of fear and excitement.

Whenever David Whyte recites his poem, Tan-y-garth–Elegy for Michael, he talks a bit about his friend Michael whose capacity for doubt was enormous. So enormous that if you started to say something, the furrowed expression of doubt on Michael’s long face was enough to have you begin to lose your own certainty. He describes Michael’s last days this way…

“…One man I know loved this place so
much he said he’d found his place to die, Years I knew him

here walking the high moor lines or watching the coals
of a winter fire in the cottage grate. And die he did but not

before one month’s final joy in wild creation gave him that
full sight he’d glimpsed in Blake, he too struggled with his angel,

in and out of hospital, the white sheets and clouds unfolded
to the mountain’s bracing sense of space, now he was ready,

his heart so long at the edge of the nest shook its
wings and flew into the hills he loved. Became the hills

he loved. Walked with an easy rest cradled by the faith he
nursed for years in doubt
…”

Can we take our scraps of faith, our capacity to think, our capacity to not think, our practices of being somebody and being nobody and nourish ourselves with our doubts? Can we know and experience being nothing and being everything and become what we love in wild creation while we are here, living, breathing fully this moment? Can we hold the tension of opposites–faith and doubt–faith in our holy “yes” to life and and the doubt that says our faith may not save us; can we rest in that tension and savor our delicate position?

PS…On a less serious note, I also love the twist on Descartes expressed by Robin Williams in the movie, The Adventures of Baron Munchausen. Williams, in his role as the King of the Moon (Ray D. Tutto), says bluntly, “I think, therefore, you is!

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