With Gratitude to All Teachers of Whatever Kind

Wise words from Jude Hill, https://clothwhispering.com/blog/ November 19, 2022:

“Yesterday, simply asking myself a lot of questions. Today trying to answer them.  But I think answers don’t apply for very long really.  Things are always changing. And I, we, are only human and answers, there aren’t any really.  Questions are prompts for considering, and answers , well what if they are just coffee breaks?”


Thank you all for your warm, wonderful, and kind contributions this past week. This safe circle is truly a sacred space.

And thank you again, Tina, for your question. It has been said that a good question prompts more questions. That has certainly my experience this last couple weeks. I keep finding more & more questions, shifting perspectives, uncovering important memories…. My mind/spirit does enjoy finding connections that expand & complexify things. [No doubt part of my love of Paradox & Trickster.] So — a simple question requesting one title of one book sent me off down many maze-like rabbit holes at once. (And, of course, it doesn’t help that I am what my husband calls a “bookaholic.”)

I began to think about the myriad of books that have ignited life-changing passions, patterns, ways of being — starting with the books my mother read to me as a young child…… I thought about how, in 1986, a single step into an unexpected bookstore led me to randomly open a book to the poem that gave me the courage to make a difficult but necessary life-changing (shattering) decision.

And then I thought beyond the books to some of the authors with whom I was later fortunate enough to interact for a day or a week or, occasionally, for months.

I thought of folktales & myths which I was told — encountering them with my ears & body, rather than through the written word.

And then, beyond words — to experiences such as time spend beyond language with the land, plants, and animals for months in Kenya or daily in my own backyard. Or Aramaic chants & the Dances of Universal Peace with a Sufi master — sounds & movements that helped me develop and deepen a new relationship with my body, moving from head-centered to heart-centered.

Oh, I could go on & on — but would any of this be helpful in the sense of a “recommendation”? It’s the story of my life, which may or may not be relevant to another in one or many (or no) details.

So — I am incapable of recommending one book or one experience or one teacher (human or other). But what I did realize as I thought about possible answers was that it is the very diversity of books, experiences, and teachers that is the treasure.

I guess if I have any recommendation it is to Cherish your Curiosity.

And another recommendation [I told you I couldn’t do just one!] is to Practice Gratitude. Even though it is often hard or may seem impossible at times, I believe we can learn to give gratitude for whatever we meet along the way — be it book, dance, idea, personal teacher, unexpected bird, Old Woman in the Forest, or Coyote at the Crossroads. I often fail. Still, whatever my response, I believe each encounter does have at its heart (though often disguised & recognized only in hindsight) something I need to learn. The gift can come gently or with the roughness of a rusty blade, but it is something that can help in building a more grounded, kinder, and wiser life. And building such a life from what is at hand is something I will keep trying to do.

THE HOUSE  --- by Mary Oliver

It grows larger,
wall after wall,
on some miraculous arrangement
of panels,
blond and weightless
as balsa, making space
for windows, alcoves,
more rooms, stairways
and passages, all
in light, with here
and there the green
flower of a tree,
vines, streams
breaking through --
what a change 
from the cramped
room at the center
where I began, where I crouched
and was safe, but could hardly
breathe!  Day after day
I labor at it;
night after night
I keep going --
I'm clearing new ground,
I'm lugging boards,
I'm measuring,
I'm hanging sheets of glass,
I'm nailing down the hardwoods,
the thresholds --
I'm hinging the doors --
once they are up they will lift
their easy latches, they will open
like wings.

— photo by Mark Olsen —

7 thoughts on “With Gratitude to All Teachers of Whatever Kind

  1. I once walked into a local holiday open house near my home and landed on this quote, beautifully written in calligraphy and framed on a hallway wall. It came to me just when I needed and could begin to absorb it. I wrote a note asking where I could find it (this was all pre-internet!). The home owner wrote me back, the most lovely letter, with the quote tucked inside. There have been a a few other correspondences over the ensuing years, so curiosity brought me not only the quote, but a fond acquaintance! Later, I bought the small book “Letters to a Young Poet”, in which the quote was located. While I’ve yet to read the whole book, the quote and the experience has been carried in my heart for about 20 years now!

    “Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.”
    ― Rainer Maria Rilke

    Thank you for the Mary Oliver poem. “…room at the center
    where I began, where I crouched
    and was safe, but could hardly

    Lastly, your posts always send me on searches of curiosity! Were those actually book titles about curiosity and gratitude?
    Thanks again.


    • I enjoyed your tale of serendipity. The Rilke quote is one of my favorites. Thank you for adding it to the post!
      No — Gratitude & Curiosity are not book titles, just wonderful ways to approach life’s endless teachings. A good resource for gratefulness is https://grateful.org/ . I wonder what a book entitled Curiosity would be? I can imagine all sorts of things that might find a home there. I’d certainly be curious enough to read it — but in the meantime, my own curiosity is taking me in all sorts of wonder-filled directions & leading to endless surprises. It’s a good way to walk through the ups & downs of our worlds!


  2. Thank you for posting Jude’s words of wisdom .. I could not agree with them more. How we feel about this and that really can change day to day. Today we’ll be celebrating my grandson’s graduation from community college. He’s been working hard at establishing a career in Heating and Air Conditioning .. we couldn’t be more proud. Love Mary Oliver .. watched a show about her not long ago not sure if it was on Netflix but it was really good. I hadn’t known that much about her life..


  3. Your posts always send me on a search for something you mentioned, which usually to other searches, all of which usually leads to some interesting discoveries. Today I found Curious Minds: The Power of Connection, which looks like a fascinating read. I love connections. I used to devour the TV show called Connections. The way my mind always tends from one thing to another demands I make connections.

    I liked the Mary Oliver poem. My “house” is ever changing. The bird taking off is wonder-full.

    🙁 All my B I U disappeared when I pasted here,


    • The book you mentioned — Curious Minds: The Power of Connection — looks interesting indeed. And yes, it’s all about making & expanding connections! The more you find, the more you truly realize that we are all One. Everyone & everything is Kin!

      Liked by 1 person

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