In honor of teachers

(From my pastor-friend Becky Rice Yates, published here with her permission)

Those that can’t, teach. It’s true.
Those that can’t sit back while a child is struggling, teach.
Those that can’t let a generation of children have no future without education, teach.
Those that can’t work an 8 hour day while there are still children that need help outside of class, teach.
Those that can’t let children go without a snack without pulling something out of their stash, teach.
Those that can’t let children not have a pencil or crayons or a notebook without buying it out of their own pocket, teach.
Those that can’t let a child think he is stupid without proving them wrong, teach.
Those that can’t let a child think she hates reading without helping her learn to love books, teach.
Those that can’t stop looking for the light of “getting it” come on in a child’s eyes, teach.
Those that can’t stop training future doctors, presidents, accountants, construction workers, and, yes, even teachers, teach.
Those that cannot say “no” to the call to shape the future of our nation, teach.
Those that can’t, teach. It’s true – thank God.

-Becky Rice Yates

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Jesus taken to the high priest

The civil and religious authorities tied Jesus up and led him first to Annas. He was the high priest Caiaphas’ father-in-law. Caiaphas had told the Jews that it would be a good idea if one man should die for everyone.

JN 18:12-14

Jesus was asked there about his followers and what he taught them.

Jesus said “Many people know what I’ve taught, because I have regularly taught in the synagogue and the Temple complex, where all the Jews gather. I’ve not taught anything secretly. Why are you questioning me? Question the people who have listened to me – they know.”

A Temple policeman slapped Jesus after he said this, demanding “Is that the way to speak to the high priest?”

“If I have spoken falsely, then prove it. If not, then why hit me?” Jesus asked.

Then Annas had Jesus tied up and sent him to Caiaphas, the high priest.

JN 18:19-24

Jesus was taken to see the high priest Caiaphas. The chief priests, elders, and scribes were waiting there. Peter was following not far behind so he could see what happened.

MT 26:57-58, MK 14:53-54, LK 22:54

The question about the Messiah

Jesus asked this question while he taught in the Temple complex, “Why do the scribes say that the Messiah is the son of David? Inspired by the Holy Spirit, David says in the Psalms ‘God said to my Lord, sit at my right hand until I place your enemies under your feet.’ Since David called him his Lord, how can the Messiah be his son?” The large crowd was delighted with this teaching.

MT 22:41-46, MK 12:35-37, LK 20:41-44

The Sadducees and the Resurrection

The same day some Sadducees who didn’t believe in the resurrection approached Jesus to challenge him on the laws of Moses.

“Teacher, Moses taught us that if a married man dies childless, his brother must marry his wife and have children with her – legally, they are his brother’s children.

Consider this – once there were seven brothers. The first married and died childless. The second brother married her and he too died without having any children. One after the other, all seven of the brothers married this same woman and died, leaving her childless. Then she finally died. Therefore, when the resurrection happens, whose wife will she be, since she had been married to all seven of them?”

“None of you know the Scriptures or the power of God,” Jesus said. “People in this age marry and are given in marriage, but it won’t be like that in the age to come. In the resurrection, people are like angels. There is no need for them to marry.”

He continued, getting to the real reason for their question. “Concerning the resurrection of the dead, don’t you remember the passage in Scriptures when God spoke to Moses from the burning bush? He said ‘I am the God of Abraham and the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob.’ We learn from this that God is the God of the living, not the dead, because in God’s eyes, all are living with him.”

They were impressed with what he had just taught them.

MT 22:23-33, MK 12:18-27, LK 20:27-38

Waiting to escape part one.

In a way, I feel like the Israelites at the first Passover. Waiting, eagerly, to run at a moment’s notice to escape Egypt. “Egypt” means slavery and oppression. “Egypt” means not living live as we are meant to – as I’m meant to.

I’ve been shoehorning my life for a while now. My job no longer fits with my ideals. Buddha talked about “right livelihood” – where your jobs needs to line up with your values. It isn’t that the library is bad. It is just that it isn’t enough.

I am adverse to starting a “small business” and striking out on my own. Too often this means simply striking out. I don’t want to feel like I have to spend more time selling my “product” more than I spend creating it. My art isn’t my job. Maybe that is the problem though. Maybe the fact that I create and then go to a “real” job is proof I have time to do both.

I’m averse to doing all the taxes and paperwork required to run a small business. I want to get paid t create, to host Circles, to heal in many ways. I want to write, paint, collage, bead, and drum. I want to show others how to do the same. I want to facilitate weddings, funerals, and other religious ceremonies for those who have been turned out of or off of church. I want to have a place to do all of this that isn’t my home.

The biggest point is that I’m afraid to go out on my own because I need health insurance.

I need to remember that just because the Israelites became free, their lives didn’t become easy. 40 years of wandering in the desert isn’t ideal. Many people died. But they also always had enough to eat and drink, and their shoes never wore out. So maybe freedom isn’t what I think it should be.

I used to love working at the library, but that love has faded. I feel that my talents are being wasted. More importantly, I feel that my life is being wasted. I can’t stand thinking about 13 more years of 40 hour weeks until I can retire. I’ll be 59. My Mom died at 53. My Dad died at 60. Neither were able to retire. I’d hate to think that I’d spent my most healthy years at a place only half alive, biding my time. I resent the time my job takes from me. 40 hours a week is too much time away from my husband and friends. Too much time not creating and sharing and teaching.

My job is rather predictable and boring. In a way, the familiarity is comforting. In a way, it is smothering. I’m grateful to have a job that is regular and simple at times. I’m grateful to have a regular paycheck too. But right now, the only thing that keeps me going is days off, because then I get to do what I want to do.

I’d love to work in such a way that I don’t have to have a “second” job of living my “real” life. I’d love if my “first” job was more in line with my dreams and creative life. I’d love if I got paid to have circles where people could learn how to communicate better, or I could facilitate new ways of communication, where people could connect with art or music.

Bead control

I once taught a prayer bracelet workshop at a silent retreat. That was very difficult for me. I normally want to control things, and when I can’t talk, I can’t control. I could have written down what I wanted to tell people right then but either I didn’t think about that or I thought that was cheating. I had printed instructions for the very first silent retreat that I taught at but it seems like nobody read them or followed them.

There was a certain length of cord that I provided for the bracelets this time. That helped a lot. When I’ve taught prayer bracelet classes before where I could talk, people sometimes ended making bracelets that were either too short or too long. Some of them were more like necklaces.

Another thing that is important to tell people when making prayer bracelets is that they need to not put anything really heavy in the center because it will slide to that underside of your wrist and you’ll never see it. I couldn’t say that this time, and saw it happening. I knew the person would be frustrated later, but I had to let it go.

When I have taught the class before I would sometimes have to have people take the entire thing apart and redo it. At this retreat I couldn’t say anything, so I just had to let the bracelets be the way they were. Bracelets and people are a lot alike.

I had printed instructions telling them that they were supposed to put a special bead and then a plain bead and then a different special bead and the same kind of plain bead. Since the bracelets were only five dollars each this is a way that I wouldn’t lose money. Nobody did it this way. I had to let that go too.

I never thought that I would learn a lot about myself from teaching a prayer bracelet workshop at a silent retreat. It was hard to let go. I’ve invested a lot of my life into beads. Part of all of this was about relearning and unlearning. I wanted to share this new way of praying with people, but I didn’t need to do it in such a way that I needed therapy afterwards.

Prejudice

In the same way that children learn prejudice, they can unlearn it.

Many years ago, I was at a Balinese shadow puppet performance at the Smithsonian. We were all sitting on the floor. A nearby child noticed that one of the male performers was wearing a skirt. The child was a young boy, probably about seven years old. He and I had worked up a rapport, having talked about the event. It was a pretty exciting show. All the performers were wearing long flowing clothes in rich fabrics. The headdresses alone were pretty off the charts, with all the gold and wires and wiggling bits.

The child looked at me and he said “A man wearing a skirt? That’s weird!” This child wasn’t even my child and yet I felt an obligation to help. I said that women couldn’t even wear pants just 50 years ago, and in Biblical times nobody wore pants. What is normal now isn’t always normal. Normal changes. Plus, there is also the idea of men wearing kilts in Scotland.

It was awesome to watch his head expand. His limited understanding of the world just got bigger.

I also know a child who saw a spider outside and it attempted to kill it. I pointed out that the spider was supposed to be outside. Outside is the home of spiders and so it is okay to leave it alone. She looked at me funny, but then she understood. She had learned somewhere else that spiders were bad and the spiders should be killed but I taught her otherwise. If they are outside don’t kill them.

Prejudices are simply limited understandings. They are simply the result of not having enough information.

This is how all of us learned what we learned. We were given just enough information to get us going, and then left to figure out the rest. Hopefully we fill in the rest with good stuff. If we don’t, it is up to teachers to help us out. Teachers come in all varieties. You can be a teacher, and you don’t even need a certificate. If you come across someone with a limited understanding, it is important to teach them a different way of thinking, to fill in the gaps.

I have a friend who is white. She was walking with a little girl who also was white, whom she had just met. The little girl told her a story about someone in school who was mean to her. That someone happened to be black. The girl generalized and said “Black people are so mean.”

My friend was very upset by this and told her about her nephew who is half black and said not all black people are mean. She was a bit distraught about this whole exchange hours later. She thought it was tragic. She couldn’t believe that prejudice still exists these days.

It wasn’t tragic. It was an important moment to teach this child to see things in a bigger way. Our job as adults is to teach them that not everything they know is everything there is. Our job as adults is to expand their understanding. We are supposed to be teaching them to open up their minds and to understand that the world is a lot bigger place than they think.

If you are cooking on the stove and you burn your thumb you may think that the stove is a dangerous thing, but if you have a good teacher with you she will explain how not to get hurt. Then you will start to cook again.

The same is true with people, and cultures, and insects, and anything. If you get hurt once you may generalize and think that is always the way it is. If you have a good teacher with you, you’ll learn how to interact with that person, that culture, that insect, and you will learn that not everything will hurt you.

Our job as teachers is to help children learn to establish boundaries and also how to break boundaries down.

The best part? You can be a teacher and not even be in the classroom. The whole world is your classroom, and teachable moments can happen anytime.

It isn’t sad that this child thought the way she did. This is just part of being a child. She has generalized, like we all do. The sad part would have been to not use that moment as an opportunity.