Monthly Archives: November 2012

Permissive Power

Does God allow bad things to happen in order to show us the consequences of our actions? I struggled against this for a long time, because I couldn’t detach permission from intention. After all, God being omnipotent means he chooses not to intervene at times, which perhaps implies that he intends for hurtful things to happen. And that is hard to reconcile with our understanding of love. But I’ve learned a few things that balance the equation, at least in my mind. First, God truly does walk through hardship with us. It may not feel any less uncomfortable, but the truth of his presence and the presence of his truth are bigger than my feelings. (And this is coming from a fairly strong relativist.) Second, while God may will for things to happen, we as humans have the lethal ability to say no and disobey. And that does, in fact, mess with God’s plans. Doesn’t that technically reduce his omnipotence? Does a dammed river lose any power when it ceases to flow? If anything, the potential grows. Withholding power, I have learned, is not the same as losing it.

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Finding Me

A year ago yesterday I took a wild leap away from expectations, and I’m not sure that I’ve landed yet. In leaving the classroom, I walked away from the path I had chosen and prepared for my entire adult life. It was not an easy decision, as I am not used to failing and I am (was?) not used to quitting. There have been many times in the last year that I’ve wondered whether I did the right thing, and even tried to reopen that door, but the universe has seen fit to keep it (mostly) closed.

Subbing has been a very redemptive experience because I get to work at a school where children get to be children without worrying about where their next meal is coming from or whether a loved one is going to make it home that night. And I discovered that they (and I) are, in fact, safe to be around after all. Having been at the school several times in the last few days, it has inevitably crossed my mind as to whether I could or would go back to full-time teaching if given the chance.

There’s a lot that I miss about the classroom, and things that I could probably enjoy at a school like this that were not available in the schools in which I’ve taught and interned. Mostly just a generally good foundation for learning, ability to find and use available resources, and a lack of serious backtalk or behavior issues. Funny enough, though, I had an incident today wherein I had to tell some students that while they could choose not to learn that day, they were not permitted to be disruptive to their classmates. One of the students who was working said to me, “Thanks for taking the initiative on that. [The regular teacher] just waits for them to be quiet.” Which made me laugh a bit inside, A) because that used to be my strategy, and B) because after all I’ve experienced, I just don’t tolerate nonsense well anymore, especially from students who have so much given to them. They’re not bratty in general, they just don’t know any better (or maybe I should say worse). At the risk of sounding a bit bratty myself, I think that I may only be suited for teaching in a certain type of school setting, and not that of the schools in which I found myself. But if that setting is not available to me, then I just pursue other options.

It’s been enlightening, exhausting, and absolutely terrifying to blaze my own way in the last year. Try as I might to surf other people’s bow waves, the universe has made it clear that I have to learn to swim on my own. And part of that is not being afraid of the water, which I’m gradually learning as well. A year later, I haven’t sunk, so I guess I’ll just keep swimming

The Alchemist

Woman, lift up yah head,

fo de alchemist he comin.

Collect yah tears, e’ry last one,

fo he turn dem to strands a pearls

round yah queenly neck.

Take up yah burdens in yah weathered hands,

fo he turn dem leaden weights to gold,

gold fo yah wrist and yah ankles.

Sit up straight in de stiff straw of yah humiliation,

for he spin dat straw to silk

fo yah royal robes.

If ye bear yah head and tear yah hair

in grief and guilt and shame–oh!

He crown yah wid his love.

So lift up yah head, woman,

for de alchemist, he be comin.

(October 18, 2012)