“You didn’t come into this world.
You came out of it, like a wave from the ocean.
You are not a stranger here.”
– Alan Watts, Shirin Yoku website
As I become aware of what actions, behaviors, habits and practices are life-giving for me, I find that I am drawn to spend more and more time in nature. In the mornings, I feel compelled to breath deeply the air as I leave the house, open my window when I am commuting, slow down enough to bask in a moment of sunshine before I enter a building.
The more time I spend in world of nature, the richer my interactions become. A sunset will fill me with a sense of emanating warmth. Mornings of low-hanging fog over dewey grass will fuzzy my sense of here and there. Soft blankets of grass will move me to visceral connection, my fingers (or toes) moving through the strands.
Mind tools describes the acronym SMART goals in the following way:
I like that there are multiple interpretations of these categories according to this definition. For example, in any context, goals that are significant, meaningful and rewarding are factors that should be considered if one is going to take the time to plan and reflect on a new practice or strategy.
A few weeks ago, I worked with Laura Garber in the classroom on a lesson where she wanted students to explore grit as a way to meet meaningful SMART goals. The lesson had the following learning targets:
I am hosting a workshop at the Wexner Center for the Arts for Capital (or COTA) day on October 16 from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. called Mindful Creativity which is FREE and open to ALL teachers!
Here is a blurb about it from the Wexner Center website:
What does it mean to be “present”—to notice the colors and textures of our everyday surroundings? How does this “presence” apply to one’s process as an artist, a writer, a thinker, or an explorer of the world? Answering these questions and more will be the focus of this year’s Capital Day, Mindful Creativity. Learn how mindfulness works and what it looks like in practice. Investigate creativity through this lens to explore the world of art and artistry together using the exhibition After Picasso: 80 Contemporary Artists as inspiration. Consider ways that you can take this new knowledge to your students to enhance their own presence in the world and their abilities as explorers and artists. Come prepared to write, discuss, reflect, and practice mindfulness strategies.
You can register for the workshop on the Wexner Center website at this link. There is a gray box in the top right corner that says “register.”
Our divine souls when illuminated
with purity and grace, fly high
as sky lanterns in the dark skies
the flame never going out
– by Yasmeen Khan
I have written previously about my interest in the use of ritual as a way to enhance awareness of, and bring intention to, the mundane and profound experiences and passages in human life.
Melissa shared with me the idea of using paper lanterns, or sky lanterns, as part of a ritual to release “old stuff”- things we want to get rid of but keep hanging on to for some reason- longings that no longer serve us, habits that have proven to be harmful, or memories that cause pain and suffering. I thought the idea was really beautiful, so we set a date and I ordered the lanterns.
Imbibing the words of Anis Mojgani as I wake:
inspiration to run with joy
and believe in the power of the world to hold
“Hatred and bitterness can never cure the disease of fear; only love can do that. Hatred paralyzes life; love releases it. Hatred confuses life; love harmonizes it. Hatred darkens life; love illuminates it.”
– “Antidotes for Fear” by Martin Luther King Jr. from Strength to Love
This sermon by Dr. King was one of my assigned readings for class this week. It’s message is one that takes courage to live. His life and death are both powerful testaments to this fact.
An anecdote from the sermon that was most profound in illustrating this was concerning a conversation he had with Mother Pollard, an elderly woman who participated in the Montgomery Bus Boycotts.
On a particular Monday evening, following a tension-packed week that included being arrested and receiving numerous threatening phone calls, I spoke at a mass meeting… In my address I tried desperately to give an overt impression of strength and courage, although I was inwardly depressed and fear-stricken. At the end of the meeting, Mother Pollard came to the front of the church and said, “Come here son.” I immediately walked over and gave her a big hug. Then she said, “Something is wrong with you. You didn’t talk strong tonight.” Seeking further to disguise my fears I retorted, “Oh, no, Mother Pollard, nothing is wrong I am feeling as fine as ever.”
“Now you can’t fool me,” she said, “I knows something is wrong. Is it that we ain’t doing things to please you, or is it that the white folks is bothering you?” Before I could answer she looked directly into my eyes and said, “I don told you we is we is with you all the way.” And then wth a countenance beaming with quiet certainty she concluded, “But even if we aint with you, God’s gonna take care of you.” Everything in me quivered wth the pulsing tremor of raw energy when she uttered these consoling words.
As I read this passage- King’s call from the past drenched in my knowledge from the present, knowledge of his life and death interwoven with history- I, too, felt a shiver of energy run through me. I couldn’t help but wonder, what did he know in this moment that only visceral feeling could express? What was love telling him?
I can’t know for sure, but his personal risks and sacrifices were made in love, not only for himself and for the civil rights movement, but for all people- even his enemies.
We shall match your capacity to inflict suffering by our capacity to endure suffering. We will meet your physical force with soul force. Do to us what you will and we will still love you… Bomb our homes and threaten our children, and, as difficult as it is, we will still love you. Send your hooded perpetrators of violence into our communities at the midnight hour and drag us out on some wayside road and leave us half-dead as you beat us, and we will still love you. Send your propaganda agents around the country and make it appear that we are not fit, culturally and otherwise, for integration, but we’ll still love you. But be assured that we’ll wear you down by our capacity to suffer, and one day we will win our freedom. We will not only win freedom for ourselves; we will appeal to your heart and conscience that we will win you in the process, and our victory will be a double victory.
While not every person is called to encompass and express love in the same way, I believe we are each called in our unique ways to do so. The language used to express this matters little. Wherever and however one feels love, that is a calling toward rightness. In the words of Mary Oliver,
You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves
My wish and hope for this Friday is that all of us may find more and deeper ways to feel and express the love within and to share this gift with others. Have a love-filled Friday, all.
Stopped in traffic on my commute,
the sun following me, peeking through the trees
Watching students in the Mosaic program
turn bits of torn and tattered paper
into personal expression and community building
Smelling sandalwood and bergamot during my evening meditation,
darkness enfolding the quiet within
Feeling the crisp edges of fried croissant
(yes, fried- say hello to the cronut, the king of all donuts)
crunch between my fingers before I bite into
its sweet, buttery decadence.
Painting, sharing, exploring
with my fellow creatives in our Artist’s Way group
From where does your beauty come in your own life? How do you capture it?