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You Are the Only Student You Have

Rumi wrote poetry that resonates over centuries. When we take time to be thankful and silent, we are one with the universe. We sense the right time to speak.

When we become our student, it is important to be silent and patient with the student. Without patience and compassion, the student does not learn. The teacher cannot teach and wisdom cannot be received.

When we receive ourselves as both teacher and student, questions open up not to be answered as inviting spaces. We move beyond change and transform who we are.

You are the only faithful student you have.
All the others leave eventually.

Have you been making yourself shallow
with making others eminent?

Just remember, when you’re in union,
you don’t have to fear
that you’ll be drained.

The command comes to speak,
and you feel the ocean
moving through you.
Then comes, Be silent,
as when the rain stops,
and the trees in the orchard
begin to draw moisture
up into themselves.

Happy Birthday, Albert! | Catherine M Johnson

Happy Birthday, Albert! | Catherine M Johnson.

I am a big Albert Einstein fan and it is his birthday today. I enjoy his eccentric behaviour and wild hair.

Several years ago, a student asked who the guy was in a poster in our classroom.

Without hesitating, I said, “My Dad!” A second student expressed skepticism, but I answered with “Look at him. He has wild hair, is eccentric, and tells great stories. Its my Dad!”.

A third student responded, “It’s Albert Einstein. His name is on the poster.”

For the rest of my teaching years, students, parents, and I were always careful when I began to say something about my Dad. I clarified whether it was my real dad or my figurative dad. The two had interesting quotes in common.

My real Dad would say, “When you stop beating your head against the wall it feels better.” I shared that with students when we talked about Einstein’s definition of insanity: “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

Gospel

The world gospel comes from the Greek and Latin meaning “a reward for bringing good news.” When we walk through life and notice what we experience we are rewarded. It requires a mindful and thoughtful approach noticing the old and the new sharing space with each other; dependent upon each other.

We are dependent on what is there. Thich Nhat Hanh suggested a garden’s weeds enable the growth of new plants. Farmers plow the previous year’s growth under avoiding erosion, adding nutrition to the soil, and helping keep moisture. We do not know whether the news is good until we pause and remember the context behind the news. What did that “bad” news really mean? When we listen more closely, we hear the music of the world singing a different refrain for us.

Philip Levine wrote this wonderful poem. I thought about what it means to receive news. Perhaps that letter in his pocket was not bad news, but, once he was over the pain, he found something new that he had not sensed before.

The new grass rising in the hills,

the cows loitering in the morning chill,

a dozen or more old browns hidden

in the shadows of the cottonwoods

beside the stream bed. I go higher

to where the road gives up and there’s

only a faint path strewn with lupine

between the mountain oaks. I don’t

ask myself what I’m looking for.

I didn’t come for answers

to a place like this, I came to walk

on the earth, still cold, still silent.

Still ungiving, I’ve said to myself,

although it greets me with last year’s

dead thistles and this year’s

hard spines, early blooming

wild onions, the curling remains

of spider’s cloth. What did I bring

to the dance? In my back pocket

a crushed letter from a woman

I’ve never met bearing bad news

I can do nothing about. So I wander

these woods half sightless while

a west wind picks up in the trees

clustered above. The pines make

a music like no other, rising and

falling like a distant surf at night

that calms the darkness before

first light. “Soughing” we call it, from

Old English, no less. How weightless

words are when nothing will do.

Peace is With us Today

Peace is With us Today.

I had an Einstein poster in my classroom. My students referred to him as my dad, because I told a student, who did recognize him, he was my dad. When another student questioned me, I pointed out we had wild hair, facial foliage, and eccentric behaviors.

I enjoy Einstein, because his quotes reveal important insights. In this one, peace is something we offer and gain through mutual understanding.

I am using Jurgen Habermas, Hans-Georg Gadamer, Parker Palmer, etc. in my dissertation. I find important intersections in their work as they stress conversation, communication, and mutual understanding as integral to living peacefully in the world. It does not mean agreement, but suggests we can accept different ways of experiencing the world that allows for non-violent disagreement. We see what the Other holds true in their living as not very different from what we hold true.

Dear Universe

Dear Universe.

When you go to the linked article, you will see it is dated. However, it is not dated in that it carries a timeless message that we are able to share each day.

Kathy and I were blessed with our first grandchild in April, 2014. He is beginning to walk and his reach in the world is growing.

Similar to Mimi, new questions arise as we enter into a relationship like grandparents. We become elders and see the world through a new lens. When I spend time with our grandson, I do not feel rushed like I did at times when I was a parent with young children. I enjoy his laughter, when he plays with the little boy in the mirror, and as he snuggles and falls asleep in my arms.

I wish for a better world for all our grandchildren and children. One where we see each other in our human being and human becoming.

Gnarly

Gnarly.

When I was still teaching, students would throw around their favourite slang, usually in proper ways. Gnarly was a favourite word of one of the young men I taught for five years.

A young woman used beast. The first time I heard her say that I was unsure what she meant, but it described her play as the Michael Jordan of her basketball league.

Mike photographed a tree and entitled the post Gnarly. It is cool which is what the young man meant when he used gnarly. It is cool there is wisdom in that tree as it does its work. It is also cool to find wisdom in the everyday world of words.

Wisdom

Wisdom.

Dr. Seuss’, Theodore Geisel, books explained abstract concepts fairness, being honest, and accepting differences for children and parents. The irony was for most of his writing career he had no children of his own. It was only when he married a second time that he had two step-daughters.

Whether he intended to or not, Seuss was a social justice teacher. He introduced children and their parents with his writing to unforgettable characters who demonstrated what we could learn on Mulberry Street.

His unforgettable lyrical prose imprinted itself on children in ways they were recalled and, even if misspoken, it made little difference. After all, the words were often made up by Dr. Seuss. Perhaps, we find wisdom in our imaginations? Imagine a world where we treated each other with respect and dignity.

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