Bird Droppings May 1, 2014
We live to often setting life on cruise control
I was driving to Athens a few days ago to pick up a couple more books seems like a never ending effort to find books and then read sort of devouring books lately. I have four different books on going set around the house so where ever I sit down I can read. In amongst my wandering in Barnes and Noble a few days ago and a large chai-tea with soy milk an interesting book Spirit Healing by Dr. Mary Dean Atwood PhD. I have been fascinated with Native American spirituality for some time and funny as things go today I found a card from my son and wife who were in Texas at a conference a few years back, it is a post card of Chief Joseph.
“Unlike Western spirituality, the Native Americans, lived religion every day. It was a way of life. Like Eastern religious philosophies, the spirit or soul of the person was considered foremost. The Native American like followers of eastern religions believed that all animal, mineral, and plant life contained a spiritual essence or living force.” Dr. Mary Dean Atwood
Several weekends ago we drove three hundred plus miles to visit our son and his wife and granddaughter. Driving on interstate at seventy miles per hour I tend to set my wife’s car on cruise control and cruised along my legs relaxed against the side wall of the transmission tunnel when it hit me I was on cruise control. In my readings lately of curriculum there is an attitude of circular, of individualism, and occasionally a spiritual aspect continues to pop up. You might ask how I find spiritual in reading about curriculum theorists. A quote I have used many times before borrowed from a great Native American holy man.
“You have noticed that everything as Indian does is in a circle, and that is because the Power of the World always works in circles, and everything tries to be round….. The Sky is round, and I have heard that the earth is round like a ball, and so are all the stars. The wind, in its greatest power, whirls. Birds make their nest in circles, for theirs is the same religion as ours…. Even the seasons form a great circle in their changing, and always come back again to where they were. The life of a man is a circle from childhood to childhood, and so it is in everything where power moves.” Black Elk Ogallala Sioux Holy Man, 1863-1950
Black Elk was revered as an elder and holy man having received a powerful vision in his youth transcribed by Nerhardt in the book, Black Elk Speaks. A circular belief, a circle of life, a continuum, a constant flow with no beginning and no end all within is sacred. As I thought deeper so much of our western thought is very linear looking at Judeo-Christian religion you go to point B (heaven or hell) and attaining various and differing methods of attaining that destination and or not attaining it you go somewhere. We constantly come back to where we start for me it is that aspect of spiritual.
I received an email from a student that added to my thought as we so often in our thinking only obsess on point B and forget the journey the pathway we are on. Upset that her boyfriend had not called two or three times in a day if only for a minute or two she could not understand it. We in western thought get so fixated on the destination we lose track of the journey. I emailed back something about relationships and so much more to life and then cruise control again. In Christian thought and many in fundamentalist thinking the term of once saved always saved comes up a real sort of cruise control. I can sit back and relax and I will go to heaven just enjoy the ride and in so many aspects of life we go into that mode of cruise control. We set up retirement funds, we establish high stakes testing, and we set up curriculum in a linear thinking, a straight line thought with no curves which make cruise control really nice. Then I think back to the circle and how no two children are the same each is totally different. Even two children from the same house will be totally different.
I watched a surveillance video at a friend’s store of two guy’s high school age in a new car breaking into a vending machine and stealing money they happened to be caught on video. In another situation where a local woman found out her son was taking her money from her account at night the bank had to show her video and he was arrested on drug (meth) charges a few days later and also on theft charges for the money taken. He is in rehab now again linear thinking.
How do we ever get to circular thinking? Many curriculum theory writers think that way but are so deep in thinking they spend their time in vocabulary that the average person can’t understand. We fall back to linear and easier thinking and that cruise control. It is so much easier to let someone else do the thinking and tell us what to believe in or to teach in school. Teachers fall victim as it is so easy to use a packaged program and preplanned lessons. It makes point B so much easier as we glide in cruise control and as they say poof everyone learns and does well and is a prefect student and no discipline issues and no extra work.
Several years ago I was reintroduced to a poet from the 1970’s James Kavanaugh and I would like to share a thought from his writings.
UNAFRAID TO BE FREE
“Finally unafraid to be free,
Ready to surrender all the illusions of
recognition and external securities,
Living off the sky and earth like soaring
eagles and braying burros,
Trusting in a Power even beyond Dow Jones
and hoarded retirement.
Finally ready to live like the noble animal that I am-
Without masters or servants, with dignity dependent on no one,
Content to know that I am God’s child, and
only good has been prepared for me.
When I am not afraid to release all that my life
and culture taught me to prize.
To abandon fears once and for all, to discard the
anxieties of a lifetime like a suit that no longer fits,
To be afraid of no one, beholden to no one,
dependent on no one
Save the few who know and love me as I am,
and the God Who alone gives meaning and joy
to the madness of my life.”
He mentioned God someone might say and I would offer to define God to a Native American and they would say is it is the sum total of all that is, the Great Spirit. In Judeo Christian thought they want to anthropomorphize and make God a guy and even three guys if you count the trinity. However you perceive God it works in this passage from Kavanaugh a man who left the priesthood to understand life more fully. He took his life out of cruise control.
We need to be driving on our own more not relying on cruise control so much and what others say, think free and live free as the Acadians say in the Scorpion King movie. What if we could transfer freedom to the class room a democratic classroom a circular process of learning no linear thinking and each child learning to maximum capacity? Who knows what might happen? A new morning and please keep all in harm’s way on your mind and in your hearts and to always give thanks namaste.
My family and friends I do not say this lightly,
(We are all related)