I wrote a poem a few days ago about feeling bitter.
My mom called to ask if everything was all right. “You sounded down in the dumps.”
“No, mom, it’s just that I occasionally have negative thoughts.”
“Well I guess I do too but I don’t write about them.”
These words from my mom imply an unspoken question: “Why do you write about bad feelings?” More to the point: “Why do you publish poems about your bad feelings?”
Blogs are easy places to rant and when I started by first blog, it was because I wanted to rant. It still happens occasionally. But mostly I want to write and self expression is a deep source. I don’t need to spit out all the details of how it came to be I had those bitter feelings that day.
Writing allows me the opportunity to turn the question back on myself – turn to wonder as Parker Palmer prods us to do. What did the events of that day teach me about myself?
Our church has begun some work exploring the five interlocking habits of the heart that Parker Palmer explores in his most recent book, Healing the Heart of Democracy. He uses these phrases to describe these habits:
We must understand that we are all in this together.
We must develop an appreciation of the value of “otherness.”
We must cultivate the ability to hold tension in life-giving ways.
We must generate a sense of personal voice and agency.
We must strengthen our capacity to create community.
Each week of Lent, our pastors will be speaking from the pulpit using scripture to break open ideas behind each habit and we will use small group sessions on Wednesdays to deepen our understanding and work to activate these habits within ourselves.
I am a lucky one. I am part of the group planning these evenings and so my mind is getting filled up with reading poetry, thinking about group questions, exploring ways to bring these habits to life for others. I’ve also been working to think about how to share these ideas with children and put together a small collection of picture books and activities we’ll be using with our young ones to learn about these heart habits. I went ahead and posted those ideas on my other blog.
I hope others are inspired to figure out ways to make these habits come alive in various communities. I am reading How Children Succeed by Paul Tough and heard an interview with Bruce Feiler about his book, The Secrets of Happy Families. I think all the information presented by these authors is connected and I’m doing a lot of thinking about how to actively work to integrate it in my teaching and living. The intersection of Church and State happens inside me, the teacher, and I think it is important to maintain these heart highways.