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The New Teacher Book

Posted on 2006.08.15 at 11:05
I'm reading a great book right now that really sums up what I hope for myself and my students. It's simply titled "The New Teacher Book."

"Let's not let our lives make a mockery of our values. We want to live consciously and puposefully, as aware as we can be, as engaged and connected as we can become, as energetice and active and present to life's demands and potential as possible. Let's embrace all the loveliness of the world and oppose all the unnecessary suffering and injustice we can see, all the pain human beings are forced to face."

"Romantic hopes and idealistic dreams always contend with cold reality, with the harsh edges and facts of life. None of us i born free; each of us, rather, is thrust into a world not of our choosing. We invent ourselves then, within a resistant world, holding it, interacting with it, fighting it, changing it. We are both free and fated, fated and free - neither entirely scripted and entangled, nor exactly limitless. WE are on a voyage through life, incomplete, moving, changing both the world and ourselves."

"Criticism and forgiveness - this is the path to wisdom in teaching. We are, each one of us, a work-in-progress. We are pilgrims who see our students as unruly sparks of meaning-making energy on a voyage through their lives. We, too, are on a journey. Let's create a teaching life worthy of our teaching values."

Out of Bounds

Posted on 2006.08.06 at 12:53
Current Location: Home
Current Mood: contemplativecontemplative
Current Music: Instrumental
On Friday I was listening to the radio program "Talk of the Nation" on NPR. I generally have my car radio tuned to NPR; sometimes I wonder if I am just hoping to learn something subconsciously, since I am often in my own world while driving with the radio humming along as a soundtrack for my thoughts. However, on this particular day, the program caught my attention when I heard the words science, God, and intelligent design. The guests were Francis Collins and Owen Gingerich, both scientists and authors. The discussion revolved around how the two men reconciled their beliefs in both God and science. One of the two stated that once he'd accepted his belief in God as a supernatural being, he recognized that God can and does work outside the human bounds of science.

The topic came up again last night during a conversation with a friend. We were discussing God and faith and religion and how over the past few years, we've both been struggling to reconcile our belief in the "Christian God" with what we've also come to believe about the world and other existing religions and expressions of faith. Suddenly I realized that if God is bigger than the human understanding of science, he's also so much larger than our understanding of his grace and love. God in his entirety is outside the bounds of what we can ever fully comprehend.

Again the topic came up in church this morning, as we reflected on a passage of scripture from the book of Ephesians. "And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge - that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God."

I found myself breathing an almost endless sigh of relief and release this morning. All these years of uncertainty, of "how can I believe this if I don't believe that?", began to melt away. My experience of Christianity had taught me that the bounds of Gods love were limited and that to question them meant I must have stepped outside the realm of salvation and acceptance. In reality, the dimensions of God's love and grace are boundless in such a way that they pass human knowledge and understanding. God invites me to test those depths, to swim in them, to revel in the peace of knowing that no matter how far I search, his love is there. He is not threatened by the questions, by the testing, by the uncertainty. If his love is so boundless, it means there is space for all my questions and for the endless grace I so wanted to believe truly existed, not just for myself, but for the world in which I live.

Random Acts of Kindness

Posted on 2006.07.26 at 16:47
Current Mood: gratefulgrateful
Current Music: Silence
It is sometimes easy to get down and believe that there are very few people in the world who care much about the next person. I often find myself bemoaning the rudeness and the seeming lack of kindness among strangers. But the truth is, there's really so much more kindness in the world than we actually see.

Today I lost my wallet. I went raspberry picking for a few hours, paid with a check at the honor system stall, packed up my berries and left - without my wallet. The berry farm is a good twenty minutes from my home, and I didn't realize my mistake until two hours after the fact. So I got back in my car (swearing at myself under my breath) and drove back to the stall. I looked everywhere, but no wallet was to be found. I called the manager of the farm, who said no one had called about having found a wallet. Dejected, I left without my wallet once again, and drove back to my apartment, mentally going over everything in my wallet. How long should I wait before cancelling my credit cards? And dammit, I'd just gotten a new driver's license a few months ago. Not to mention the insurance cards, the checkbook, the book of stamps I'd just purchased...

When I walked up the stairs to my apartment, I held my breath, hoping beyond hope that someone had left my wallet there. To my disbelief, there was my wallet, propped against the door. No note, nothing missing. Just a random act of kindness performed by a stranger. And although I don't know who it was or how to thank them, I'd like to thank the world for being kind to me today.


Posted on 2006.07.09 at 20:37
Current Mood: mellowmellow
"Stop and listen to the heart, the wind outside, to one another, to the changing pattern of this mysterious life. It comes moment after moment, out of nothing, and disappears into nothing." Jack Kornfield

Today I visited North Valley Friends Church. I've been trying to find a church that "fits" me for a long time, and the truth is, I haven't been to one for quite a while that hasn't left me feel uncomfortable and more than a bit cynical. I didn't feel those things today.

One of the aspects I was most touched by during the service was the time of silence. Although it was a programmed meeting, Quakers (Friends) value silent moments as an opportunity for God (the inner Light) to speak to them individually or corporately. The time of silence today was punctuated only by the music of birds outside, and I found myself breathing in an air of calm as I sat in silence with strangers. It's extremely rare to sit silently with a crowd of people, so silent you can hear the breathing of the person next to you. It's almost like life has stopped for a moment and allowed you to take a long deep breath.

Sitting quietly today reminded me that I need to take more of my own moments of silence. Moments in which I empty myself of the racing thoughts that ultimately mean nothing: "What am I going to make for dinner? I can't believe that guy just pulled out in front of me! I wonder when Santiago is getting home? Did I remember to take my vitamin this morning?" The thoughts that come crashing wave after wave don't allow me to reach that space of inner peace unless I deliberately put them out of my head for a time. If I can just give myself license to stop and listen, maybe I would hear things I've never heard before.

Voluntary Simplicity

Posted on 2006.07.04 at 11:16
Current Mood: calmcalm
Current Music: The hum of a fan and the sounds of running water...
Lately, much of my free time (and I do have a lot right now) has been spent exploring the topic of voluntary simplicity. A friend of mine told me the other day that she didn't know what that meant. It means something different to every person that practices it, but yesterday I found out who actually coined the term and what he meant by it.

Richard Gregg was a follower of Mahatma Gandhi. He said this about voluntary simplicity: "Voluntary simplicity involves both inner and outer condition. It means singleness of purpose, sincerity and honesty within, as well as avoidance of exterior clutter, of many possessions irrelevant to the chief purpose of life. It means an ordering and guiding of our energy and our desires, a partial restraint in some directions in order to secure greater abundance of life in other directions. It involves a deliberate organization of life for a purpose."

Wow! That's a mouthful! Each phrase really has to be broken down in order to digest what Gregg is saying. What I take from it is that in order to live a life of purpose, I should funnel my energy in such a way that it isn't slowed by all the clutter and extra "stuff" that can be so distracting. The question then arises: what is my "chief purpose" in life? I suppose by exploring voluntary simplicity, I am sifting through my own thoughts and sorting out the answer to that very question.

I found this on someone else's site - thought it was cool

Posted on 2006.07.03 at 19:32
Current Location: Fishy-smelling apartment
Current Music: R.E.M
If you comment on this post
1. I’ll respond with something random about you.
2. I’ll challenge you to try something.
3. I’ll pick a color that I associate with you.
4. I’ll tell you something I like about you.
5. I’ll tell you my first/clearest memory of you.
6. I’ll tell you what animal you remind me of.
7. I’ll ask you something I’ve always wanted to ask you.
8. If I do this for you, you must post this on yours.


Posted on 2006.07.03 at 12:46
Current Mood: hungryhungry
Current Music: I Am Sam Soundtrack
"We must be more tentative in crying, 'Mine!'"

Last week I was working through a lesson in a workbook titled "Simplicity Lessons". The lesson asked me to think of three things I truly cherish (things, not people). I sat down with my journal and spent some time thinking about what I really, truly cherish. Were my apartment to be destroyed by fire, what would I rescue? There is nothing in my life, in fact, that cannot be replaced. Apart from photographs and a few simple souvenirs of past experiences, I own nothing that I would be devastated by losing. But if this is true, then why do I hold possessions so closely? Why do I hesitate to share? Why can't I hold things with open hands rather than clenched fists? If things can be so easily replaced, why can't I let them slip from my life as they entered?

An online journal - for the world to read?

Posted on 2006.06.29 at 15:57
Current Mood: contemplativecontemplative
So, the idea of blogging and putting my thoughts out their for all the world to read is just really foreign to me. I've journalled a lot in my life; have filled so many hardbacked journals, in fact, that I have nowhere to store them in my tiny apartment. For all I know, the box they're sitting in at my parents house has been discovered, an all the angst from my 4th grade year through college has been discovered by one of my family members. I suppose none of it is too shocking if it has been discovered, because I haven't noticed any major changes in my family's attitudes towards me.

Now then, it's been a while since I've actually journalled, and I have to shift my thoughts just a bit, knowing that others will actually read my ramblings... What to write about, really? My life isn't terribly exciting as of late, but I certainly won't complain about that.

Today I volunteered for the second time at an interdenominational organization that provides assistance to low-income families and individuals in Newberg and Yamhill County. Somehow I always forget how good it feels and how greatly my life is put into perspective when I give my time to someone else without expecting anything in return. I walk away knowing that not only have I touched a life, but mine has been changed in the process, and a little bit of my selfish, self-centered mindset has been altered.

I can't even imagine what it must be like to be homeless at the age of nineteen, or at any age, for that matter. This afternoon, a young man came into the office looking as though he were shouldering the weight of the world. Since I didn't talk to him directly, I don't know his whole story, and while he may have contributed to whatever put him on the street, my heart still went out to him. I wonder to myself, where would I turn if I suddenly found myself with nowhere to go? It's impossible to imagine, due to the nature of my relationships with family and friends, who I know would take me in in a heartbeat. How must it feel to not have those security nets to fall into?

Last summer when I began working for one of the school districts in the area, I saw the same man sitting at the side of a highway exit, day after day. The ground around him was scattered with a thousand spent cigarettes, and he sat on his backpack, smoking one more to add to the pile. Once or twice, I'd see someone roll down their window and hand him something - small change or a bite to eat, I don't know. I never did the same, because I never knew what to give. But I always wondered: what circumstances brought that man to the place where he sat, and what would it take to change his world? As far as I know, he continues to sit at that exit, day after day.

I often question my own generosity. It is easy to be generous with family and friends. I know that at any time I could need what I've just given them - time, money, a listening ear. It's so much harder to be generous with strangers; they'll never return the favor, will they? I have to remind myself that the favor may not be returned to me, but it might be passed along to someone else who needs it even more so than I do. By my generosity, can I spark a chain of random acts of kindness? There's an insurance commercial on TV recently that demonstrates that very concept; it always makes me smile when I see it. Even a tiny pebble tossed into a lake causes a ripple. How many pebbles have you tossed today?