This morning on the way to school, a long, rangy V of geese flew over the highway. It took me a moment to realize that they were snow geese rather than the Canada geese we see almost every day. A few miles later another V slid through the low clouds, this one in perfect formation, only a dozen or so birds, and again, I needed to re-arrange my sense of what I was seeing. This was no flock of geese, but a small flock of swans, their long necks a clear sign of who they were.
A week or so ago, my friend Suzy and I were talking about what swans mean: grace, flow, surrender to what is, trust in the process. I needed that conversation. I have been feeling like I haven’t been trying hard enough to figure out how to make more time in my life to write. I feel guilty because I can’t keep up with the work of teaching, and then guiltier still because I am pushing the writer’s life aside while I try to make peace with the grading. Surrender to the flow, said Suzy. Abide. Trust. Stop trying to push the river. Flow with it instead. I don’t know quite where that leads me toward making peace with my teacher/writer divide, but it eases the pressure.
And today the swans, following the geese, trailing behind them those words: “You do not have to be good.” Because that’s always what the geese say, since Mary. And today in class, a student did a presentation on a poet. His poet was Mary Oliver. And his featured poem? “The Wild Geese.” So it’s message upon message upon message.
There are words racing across the sky, in birds, in snowflakes, in cloud formations. And flowing in the rivers and streams, across lakes and oceans. And scattered in pebbles and plant-life all around us on the earth. So much to learn from. So much to listen to. So many texts to be read and understood.
1. Swans and snow geese, and the Canadas too.
2. The talented teamwork of the cast of our school’s musical. They were amazing!
3. Leaning in to the hard questions
May we walk in Beauty!
“Dominator culture has tried to keep us all afraid, to make us choose safety instead of risk, sameness instead of diversity. Moving through that fear, finding out what connects us, revelling in our differences; this is the process that brings us closer, that gives us a world of shared values, of meaningful community.”
―bell hooks, Teaching Community: A Pedagogy of Hope
“Especially now, when views are becoming more polarized, we must work to understand each other across political, religious and national boundaries.” ―Jane Goodall
“When the people were great stones
we silently watched the dawn
we listened to the wind rushing over the mountains
we spoke the language of mist and dreams
and we could feel the pulsing rhythm
of the living heartbeat of the Earth.”
“A woman cannot make the culture more aware by saying ‘Change.’ But she can change her own attitude toward herself, thereby causing devaluing projections to glance off. She does this by taking back her body. By not forsaking the joy of her natural body, by not purchasing the popular illusion that happiness is only bestowed on those of a certain configuration or age, by not waiting or holding back to do anything, and by taking back her real life, and living it full bore, all stops out. This dynamic self-acceptance and self-esteem are what begins to change attitudes in the culture.”
―Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes
“Compassion is not a relationship between the healer and the wounded. It’s a relationship between equals. Only when we know our own darkness well can we be present with the darkness of others. Compassion becomes real when we recognize our shared humanity.”
“Ours is not the task of fixing the entire world at once,
but of stretching out to mend the part of the world
that is within our reach.”
—Clarissa Pinkola Estes