The Limits of Willfulness

hawk

The Avowal

As swimmers dare
to lie face to the sky
and water bears them,
as hawks rest upon air
and air sustains them,
so would I learn to attain
freefall, and float
into Creator Spirit’s deep embrace,
knowing no effort earns
that all-surrounding grace.

-Denise Levertov

Leaders often accomplish much by working hard and being willful.

Willfulness can make things happen, especially in the business world, and in other work arenas too.

But bending life and people to one’s will has its limits.

There seems to me a lack of humility in willfulness, and certainly a lack of faith, and a deep, deep distrust.

Extremely willful people are terribly unpleasant to be around.

Hawk Image:  Matt.Herzog

Still Water

still water

From Earth, Fire and Water

We can make our minds so like still water
that beings gather about us that they may see,
it may be, their own images,
and so live for a moment with a clearer,
perhaps even with a fiercer life
because of our quiet.

-William Butler Yeats

This week I have the pleasure of instructing virtual training sessions on “Teaching with Heart, Purpose, and Passion” for two teachers, Emily and Lori, who will teach in high schools in China in the fall.

On Monday I sent Emily and Lori a bunch of poems by email and asked them to read the poems and select the one that spoke the most to her.

Lori, a Buddhist, picked two poems:  the Yeats’  poem above and “Fire”  by Judy Brown, which I posted about yesterday. Continue Reading »

Fire and Space

fire

Fire

What makes a fire burn
is space between the logs,
a breathing space.
Too much of a good thing,
too many logs
packed in too tight
can douse the flames
almost as surely
as a pail of water would.

So building fires
requires attention
to the spaces in between,
as much as to the wood.

When we are able to build
open spaces
in the same way
we have learned
to pile on the logs,
then we can come to see how
it is fuel, and absence of the fuel
together, that make fire possible.

We only need to lay a log
lightly from time to time.
A fire
grows
simply because the space is there,
with openings
in which the flame
that knows just how it wants to burn
can find its way.

-Judy Brown

This week I have the pleasure of instructing virtual training sessions on “Teaching with Heart, Purpose, and Passion” for two teachers, Emily and Lori, who will teach in high schools in China in the fall.

I sent Emily and Lori a bunch of poems by email and asked them to read the poems and select the one that spoke the most to her.

Lori, a Buddhist, picked “Fire.”  When I asked her what lines, words, images and metaphors stood out for her in the poem, she said she “loves the idea of the spaces in between.”   She is as attracted to the spaces in between as to the wood.  Continue Reading »