I wanted to take this opportunity to send my good wishes to you all and thank you for your on-going commitment and engagement to this blog and pursuit of contemplative pedagogy.
This is a picture from the blog’s stats page showing how the number of visitors (in dark blue) and views (mid blue) have increased year on year with just over 2000 visitors and just over 4000 views in 2017.
I have really enjoyed seeing these numbers increase with each year, and whilst on the one hand we shouldn’t get too dependent on statistics to provide a sense of purpose, it does fill me with excitement about the future.
And lets face it – that’s not an easy feeling to invoke after what many of us have experienced as a particularly bruising year. At no other time have I felt as shaken by world affairs as I do now. The challenge in my eyes is not to sit, powerless, paralysed by horrified anxiety, or shut ourselves away, but be willing to look, feel and respond.
At this time of the year with the huge emphasis placed on being ‘happy’ and ‘merry’ I doubt many blogs will mention heartbreak but it seems relevant to me. To engage with the challenges we face, in fact to fully engage with life, heartbreak is unavoidable. Palmer (2009) usefully draws out the difference between ‘a heart broken into a thousand shards…that sometimes become shrapnel aimed at the source of our pain…’ and a ‘heart ‘broken open’ to the largeness of life, into a greater capacity to hold one’s own and the world’s pain and joy’.
So whilst this year has been difficult, as result of it I feel a deepening sense of urgency. It seems my ability to turn away from what ails us is diminishing. I know that I am not alone in this sense. 2018 needs to see the development of discussion about how contemplative pedagogy can help prepare us and those we teach for the inevitable heartbreak of being human and how collectively we support each other through that. It also needs to directly engage with the challenges of a post-truth, post-expert world in which views are aggressively expressed and offence easily taken. In particular I am interested in how contemplative pedagogy can become more critical and, slightly ironically, become more aware of itself, the way it both questions and reinforces the status quo. Is there a danger in teaching the importance of becoming quiet and still when what we really need is noise and action?
Anyway all of that aside, like many of you, I am tired. I am looking forward to sometime away from my computer and hope that you all find some time for things that restore you in readiness for the new year.
I’ll leave you with this poem excerpt:
‘Let’s stop making deals for a safe passage:
There isn’t one anyway, and the cost is too high.
We are not children anymore.
The true human adult gives everything for what cannot be lost.
Let’s dance the wild dance of no hope!’
(An excerpt from the Darkini Speaks by Jennifer Welwood)