Bird Droppings February 24, 2022
Glistening of wisdom on a gossamer strand
Many years ago, I was sitting alongside a fence in a field far away from houses and people, and I watched a spider spin a web. We see webs all around, and I read there are thousands of spiders per acre in any field. Many of the spiders are minute and nearly microscopic. Anyhow the spider climbed to a point and dropped, leaving a strand of silk climbed and descended and so forth, building a base for her web. Next came the cross lines, and soon a web was built over an hour or so in the process. We see webs and quickly sweep them away, but the spider’s design and care in the making are engrained in their being. Life is weaving and spinning a web of sorts, and yes, so often is swept away. Occasionally someone will stand back in awe of the artistry if only we would take note every time.
I receive several daily readings from groups with differing world views. One morning I read this piece by a Christian monk living in India about the sacredness of life. Father Bede Griffiths is a Christian Monk who has lived in India for nearly fifty years and embraced the spiritual flow of the country. Matthew Fox, in his daily blog Daily Meditations with Matthew Fox, Bede Griffiths on Hinduism, Wisdom & the Sacred (2001).
According to Bede Griffiths, Westerners most need to learn from India the “sense of the sacred” that pervades “the whole order of nature.” This is creation spirituality, indeed. “Every hill and tree and river is holy,” and the simplest human acts are also. We in the West have emptied the daily of “all religious meaning.”
I stumbled my way back into education and teaching in 2001, and I have shared many of the stories in previous sections of my dissertation getting to this point. My goal with this chapter is to reflect and tie all of my experiences and happenings together. My spiritual experiences and educational experiences seem to connect on many levels, and I strongly feel this inner connection between the spiritual and the education and, ultimately, learning that it is all very connected and intertwined. Parker Palmer, in his book The Courage to Teach (1998), offers:
“The courage to teach is the courage to keep one’s heart open in those moments when the heart is asked to hold more than it is able so the teacher and students and subject can be woven into the fabric of community that learning and living require (p.11).”
Many mornings, I have walked out into the sunrise, and strands of spider silk connect everything across the grass. The dew glistens on the strands helping to make them visible. I have pondered many moments as I stared at those strands of silk. I find some solace in nature and meditate, often listening and observing what is about me. In 1995, Ted Perry used a copy of Chief Seattle’s speech to develop a script for an environmental film short. He utilized Native linguists to be sure and stay close to what Chief Seattle is recorded to have said. The following is often attributed to Chief Seattle, but the words are still meaningful, and from Perry’s book, how can one sell the air? (1995).
“All things are connected. Whatever befalls the earth befalls the sons and daughters of the earth. Man did not weave the web of life. He is merely a strand in it. Whatever he does to the web, he does to himself (p.47).”
I will spin and weave the pieces of wisdom I have shared and connect them, leading to where I am now as a teacher and learner. As I walked out in the morning cold today, I kept thinking of a morning when a little more than a third of a full moon’s glow was lighting the area, giving me a vivid view of all around; I was taken back. While only just a tiny part of the moon, it was still a beautiful picture presented. There was a sense of light about as I stood looking around, thinking as I do every morning. Sitting here today, I will ponder my day ahead and the week coming even though I have several errands to run, including Wal-Mart for odds and ends. I read very early this morning on one of my friend’s pages and commented about me being a searcher. I have often felt that way as I wander through life. What was said about me once many years ago from all places, a psychic I had the chance of running into as I do find myself in those sort of places at times. She said I had been a searcher for a long time and perhaps still was. I am a Daniel Boone of continually learning, searching, and pondering. I reconnected with an author and poet in graduate school, someone I read back in my hippy days of long ago, James Kavanaugh wrote.
“I am one of the searchers. There are, I believe, millions of us. We are not unhappy, but neither are we really content. We continue to explore life, hoping to uncover its ultimate secret. We continue to explore ourselves, hoping to understand. We like to walk along the beach; we are drawn by the ocean, taken by its power, its unceasing motion, its mystery, and unspeakable beauty. We like forests and mountains, deserts and hidden rivers, and the lonely cities as well. Our sadness is as much a part of our lives as our laughter. To share our sadness with one we love is perhaps as great a joy as we can know unless it is to share our laughter. We, searchers, are ambitious only for life itself, for everything beautiful it can provide. Most of all, we want to love and be loved. We want to live in a relationship that will not impede our wandering, nor prevent our search, nor lock us in prison walls; that will take us for what little we have to give. We do not want to prove ourselves to another or to compete for love.”
As I read this passage, I thought of people who draw my attention and I theirs. Years ago at Loganville High School, my room would be filled before class started with ten or fifteen teenagers drawn there, perhaps for donuts, but I quickly hid them. It seems I lost a bet in the fourth block, and it was for donuts. I wonder why many times kids come to talk and interact. Often I am too much for some, and they tend to back away. Others get drawn in to hear what I am ranting about, listening to a story, or reading a thought. As Kavanaugh eloquently writes about in this passage, it is often kindred spirits looking for and searching. Perhaps we are searchers looking for answers in the flow and ebb of life’s forces. Walking in the moonlight that morning was, for me, an awakening and energizing of sorts as I watched wisps of smoke rise and circle about as I blew on embers of sweetgrass and sage. The words of James Kavanaugh perhaps point a direction. “…each of us must follow his path… Wherever we are, whoever we are, there is always quiet water in the center of your soul.” Perhaps those philosophical silken strands of thread are interconnecting us all. Please keep all in harm’s way on your mind and your hearts, and always give thanks namaste.
My family and friends, I do not say this lightly,
(We are all related)