Should we look within to who we are?

Bird Droppings July 26, 2022
Should we look within to who we are?

Amazing what a day or two out of routine will do. I did not get on my computer and do anything of a writing sort the past few days; I made the mistake of getting a flu shot and covid booster simultaneously. I only have a few days of freedom (retirement) left as I am returning to teaching part-time. In my last few days off, I will write in significant quantity. As I look back on my life, good and bad, I would not change anything. I recently reunited with some friends from a long time ago on Facebook. I worked at a summer camp in the summer of 1970 and had many great experiences. A few years back, I had lunch with the former Dean of education at Piedmont college, reflecting on ideas and thoughts about Thai food.

In that process of looking back and catching up, I was reintroduced to James Kavanaugh in a roundabout way. I recall in the 1970s having read some of his poetry as he was popular for several reasons in the hippie culture of that period. He was a renegade Catholic priest as he wrote out against the church and was rather quickly no longer a priest in the Catholic Church’s legal term of the word. His conferences, seminars, and books were cult favorites. He has since passed away a year or two back.  

I began my Master’s degree program at Piedmont College in the spring of 2002, sidetracking some basic entry requirements with a very high Miller’s analogy score. As I progressed, it seemed I needed to be interviewed for acceptance into the Education Department, which was odd since I was nearing the end of my Master’s coursework. I set an appointment and went to my interview. The line was about twenty people who were all there for an initial interview. Here I was already completed and doing an initial interview, perhaps the cart before the horse. I went in and was asked several questions relating to the mission statement of the Piedmont College Department of Education.

“The School of Education’s mission is focused on mastering the Art of Teaching: Preparing Proactive Educators to Improve the Lives of All Children. Supporting this mission, we strive to prepare reflective, scholarly, proactive educators. These practitioners effectively educate their students to become knowledgeable, inquisitive, and collaborative learners in diverse, democratic learning communities.” Piedmont College Education Department

As I thought about my questions and answered and proceeded to head home, I felt good and was ready to finish my Master’s program. A few days later, I received a letter stating I had failed my interview. I immediately called my advisor, who called the Dean, and set up another interview with the Dean of the Education Department. So here I am failing my initial interview, and I can rub some people the wrong way relatively quickly, but I felt good about my interview back a few weeks ago and was confused. The Assistant Dean was also present as I went into the Dean’s office. My first question was from the Dean, how do I get on the Bird Droppings email list? I seriously liked this conversation already and proceeded to pass my interview.

I continued from my Master’s at Piedmont directly into their Specialist Program and met with the program director to set up my plans for a course of study. It was interesting as the professor who failed me in my interview was, by chance, one of the professors in the cohort recommended to me by the program director, and I was sweating bullets. It was not until a few months later we met and have long since been good friends. One interview day seemed terrible for him, a wrecked car, his Porsche on the way, among other things. As my specialist classes unfolded, this professor would start and/or finish each session with James Kavanaugh as a point of inspiration. Within a few weeks, I was acquiring copies of Kavanaugh’s work. After nearly forty years again, I am a fan. I wanted to share this piece today from his book, Quiet Water, published in 1991.

In the Center of Your Soul
By James Kavanaugh

There is quiet water
In the center of your soul,
Where a son or daughter
Can be taught what no man knows.

There’s a fragrant garden
In the center of your soul,
Where the weak can harden
And a narrow mind can grow.

There is a rolling river
In the center of your soul,
An eternal giver
With a rich and endless flow….

There is a land of muses
In the center of your soul,
Where the rich are losers
And the poor are free to go.

So remain with me then,
To pursue another goal
And to find your freedom
In the center of your soul.

I read this poem twenty times this morning, each time getting a bit more and another tear each time. I look into my grandchildren’s eyes and see this poem. I have always felt the eyes hold the soul of a person. These are compelling words for today. I do believe in this day and time, we all need to have some inspiration and additional meaning to our lives. You could ask, what the soul is, and go off on numerous tangents and wanderings but for today, have the soul be that of who you are. The soul is your essence, borrowing from James Hillman and Karl Jung. So many days ago, I started asking as I wrote to please keep all in harm’s way on your minds and in your hearts, and today is no different with headlines blaring so many in pain and suffering worldwide. Again, a very quick reminder to search your soul and please keep all in harm’s way on your mind and heart, and to always give thanks namaste.

My family and friends, I do not say this lightly,

Mitakuye Oyasin

(We are all related)


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