Saturday, April 30, 2011

Spirit Breath, A Healing Concert

As I prepared for this day's CFBS event, I noticed how the tasks of picking flowers, chopping vegetables, mixing salad dressing, and getting dressed were all imbued with a feeling of being in ceremony. I didn't put on my watch as I silently told myself that today I will be 'out of time' and will not need to look at my watch.  As  I tried on the banana wrap that I was going to wear with my malong, I marvelled at this plant whose fibers have now become a beautiful gift of garb. Gratitude.

I thank Lizae for organizing this event from a place of heartful intention. Lizae was thinking of a relative in Manila who is living with cancer and she wanted to offer a healing ritual in her name. She thought of the symbols of of tendrils, young shoots, new blooms of Spring as reminders of the cycles of birth, death, and rebirth. She thought of an elderly aunt who is still painting flowers and she wanted to share this gift with her friends. She thought of her sound healing cohort who were always willing to share this gift with others, like me, who are not familiar with the concept of sound healing. Thus, the seed idea for this event was conceived.

Months and weeks into the preparation for this event, I was reminded of the writings of Prechtel about ceremonies and ritual and their necessity in maintaining the heart of the village.  I watched Lizae and the other volunteers for this event remind each other of the sacredness of this event. It is not merely a performance, a showcasing of talent, or putting on a show. And definitely it was not occasion for an academic to put on a lecture - this was their gentle chiding. Leny, please speak from your heart, Lizae said, when you speak from your heart it is so beautiful!

It challenged me. What then can I offer at this event if I am not going to talk in the language of the academe? In a secret corner of my heart, I've wanted to honor my indigenous Kapampangan roots, but how? So I asked Mike P if he knew of an indigenous Kapampangan invocation and he sent me Dalit Karing Nunu/Praise to the Ancestors. He said that this is chanted in the form of the pasyon, the holy week chanted reading of the life of Jesus. I told Mike that I didn't grow up Catholic so I didn't grow up with pasyon singing. Mike then said that the pasyon was borrowed by the Spanish and it "never belonged to them, it belonged to us." Ahhh! There is the answer! I will reclaim this chant and make it mine.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Place-based education

Good Discussion here by David Greenwood. Follow the link:
It is possible, though, that the energy around place-based education is part of something new—a new social and educational movement—and that the old way is just going to be around with us for quite some time. For example, people are now talking seriously about peak oil and a post-carbon economic system—but still, most of us are still burning a lot of gas and coal just getting through the day! I think place-based education and community-based knowledge is to high status knowledge what renewable energy is to oil and coal. People know it works and that it is important, but we are just not able to let go of what we have depended on for so long. Our entire infrastructure—both institutionally and I believe epistemologically—is just too wrapped up in high status knowledge to allow for any quick changes to new ways of knowing and doing.  As Nathan Hensley says in the forthcoming book, Curriculum Studies Gone Wild, we need to de-carbonize the curriculum as well as our energy use. It is just going to take a lot of time, a lot of unlearning as we learn new ways. So I think that place-based education might be as much about unlearning or challenging old assumptions as it is about learning. Wherever place-based education is working, it needs to be supported so the movement can deepen and spread—much like the movement for renewable energy in the context of continued record profits for the oil industry! In fact, it might be best to keep the elites away from successes so that such successes are not co-opted and killed like the electric car was some years ago by the oil and auto industry!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

weekend with cfbs sisters

a lovely weekend with Lizae, Venus, and Junice. Lizae brought her guitar because we were going to rehearse for the upcoming event. but on second thought...nah. save the singing for another time. Venus came for the week to do video editing. Junice came to pick up the video camera i was lending her to take with her to the Philippines. she will be going home with her Dad to plant trees at their island off Cebu.

Junice didn't plan to stay overnight. Lizae planned on going home the next morning.

but we all ended up at wild flower bakery in Freestone and then at Dillon Beach and finally enjoying a seafood dinner. Junice and Lizae finally said goodbye at 7pm.

we read poetry, played music. told stories till 2:30am.

bonding. sisterhood. babaylan spirit.

wish you were here. 

Friday, April 15, 2011

looking forward to spring break. but not much of a break really when i have papers to check, meetings to go to, projects to finish, etc...but a week away from the classroom is a nice respite even though my thoughts are never far from my students. i think of them a lot, i feel their concerns, i sense their anxieties. just last week a student said her boyfriend tried to commit suicide so she had to be with him and so had to miss a class quiz. another student is taking care of a younger brother who needs a bit of discipline. many students are coughing and wheezing.

the presence of tibetan monks on campus last week was a gift. in their maroon and orange robes they floated around campus on the way to the library where they were making a tara mandala...on their way to the cafeteria for breakfast, or on the way to the dorms. it made me wonder what the impact of their presence was on students. one of my students said she was so frazzled one morning and was rushing to print her essay at the library when she saw the monks walking by and she instinctively slowed down and calmed down. one student said she is thinking of going to meditation classes now.

a professor died last week. he collapsed in front of his class and then was taken to the hospital. the news hit me like a ton of bricks. on our regularly scheduled meetings on Tuesday that this prof attends, there wasn't even an acknowledgement of his death that weekend. how strange. business went on as usual but this time there would be no dissent because the prof wasn't there. he was always the one with the dissenting voice.

the sand mandalas are destroyed after they are created to remind us of the impermanence of everything.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

on returning the sacred to the world...

The core struggle of America will continue to revolve around issues of inclusion and exclusion. That struggle will provide the heat needed to change and grow and can generate the grieving necessary to heal. Conflicts don't end until the grief engendered has been fully felt. Meaningful conflict opens the doors of grief where the wounds of the soul wait to be washed. Oppositions heat the psyche and move obstacles, but sorrow must follow and wash the soul clean again.

Conflict ends on the ground of grief where the losses are counted and the wounds of the soul washed. The greatest conflicts occur where the felt sense of the sacred has been lost. One reason that wars don't seem to end and treaties never last is because peace is a sacred agreement. Unless something sacred enters in, agreements revert to conflicts rather easily. Some sacrifice is required to make things whole and holy again. The modern world is awash with unresolved conflicts and unconscious sacrifices that don't return the sacred to the world.

(Michael Meade, The Water of Life, 360)