Wednesday, March 16, 2016

To Long for the Apprehension of Wonder

Life at the edge of wonder opens wordlessly in the poetry of images, in awe, having to remember to breathe.
         And then words come in, in this shimmering veil of thin apprehension, fearing the magical immediacy slip away. The words I wish to return then: “Fear not. For I am with you.”
         Love is always present. But how to know it in sadness, even in grief, depression? There the wished-for security, the holding-still power of language, fails. How can the word love contain ecstasy and despair the way deep inarticulate knowing does? So we’re released from words back to the dance, the just-enough, the unquenched longing.
         Perhaps that’s why I love the fog, once in awhile.
         Teaching, like learning, at least as I aspire to move within them, long for this apprehension of wonder. That’s where my search belongs: how do we move so fully prepared to risk the presence. How to hunger for the taste of words unashamed of being fragile, of disappearing like the fog, and to be left wrapped in silent warmth.
         Not many educators mumble around like this, distrusting the adequacy of the published word. Rarely I feel companionship, but I do with Robin Wall Kimmerer. She bravely and beautifully writes in Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants:
“To have agency in the world, ceremonies should be reciprocal co-creations, organic in nature, in which the community creates ceremony and the ceremony creates communities. They should not be cultural appropriations from Native peoples. But generating new ceremony in today’s world is hard to do. . . [especially when we] lack an active, reciprocal relationship with the more-than-human world.” (Pages 250-1)Earlier she summarized: “The land is the real teacher. All we need as students is mindfulness. Paying attention is a form of reciprocity with the living world, receiving the gifts with open eyes and open heart. My job was just to lead them into the presence and ready them to hear.” (Page 221)
         Robin’s writings help me articulate my focus in teaching. It’s on gift, on giving back. To discern the advent of life, authentic flow of gusto, the joyful embrace that affirms the connection with the source, love. “I was a hidden treasure and wanted to be known” (e.g., Chittick, Sufism, 77-). Love is the presence of the beloved, the eye of the creative force looking back into the Source of Love, the life-giving gift, the indwelling presence, spirit in matter, the voice of gratitude. My intention in Good Stories, echoing Robin: that we enter the presence, ready for giving.

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