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Defining Love

Oct. 12th, 2006 | 02:07 pm

When I least expect it, a student says or does something that knocks my socks off. Today they were knocked off in a good way. This particular 6th grade boy was the bane of my existence last year. He was sullen and completely uncooperative. Well, he's still no angel, but is so much more pleasant that I find it easier to forgive him his many foibles. Today the kids were supposed to be writing narrative paragraphs. I gave student X a thesaurus when he asked me for a symonym for "pleased." He flipped through it, looking at various words, then moved on to the dictionary and did the same. Finally, he said he wanted to look up "love." There's this 4th grade girl in this group that he jokes around with and talks to a great deal, so I suspect I know why he wanted to look up "love." He didn't seem to like the definition, and expressed his boyish disgust quite fluently(perhaps too fluently!)saying it was weak, etc. I shoved my spanish New Testament turned to 1Corinthians 13 under his nose, thinking that he might get a kick out of reading in Spanish, along with gleaning a different take on "love". He read "El amor es sufrido" and then thrust it back at me in embarrassment, saying that reading it made him sound like a girl. His embarrassment was quite amusing to behold. I explained to him that it meant that love is patient. I made him look up patient, and it mentioned being able to bear pain or discomfort with calm. Then I likened it to a soldier's ability to withstand torture. He liked that, since he wants to be a soldier, and liked it even more when I said that there isn't anything weak about that kind of love. He asked where he could get some of this, and I tried not to let my excitement show. I told him he could only get it from God. How? By asking? How? By asking Him for it.That's it? And He'll just give it to me? Yes. Wow, I gotta get me some of that....After a while his self-consciousness seemed to return, and he started acting the tough guy again, but by then, I was thinking about his question, and about how many of these kids wouldn't recognize real, God-given strength or love because they have little experience with such things. It was really humbling. Do I love them that way? No, at least not enough. Do I ask for such love? Not enough, for if I did, I wouldn't lack love as I do now. God bless that boy, with his rude manners and hungry soul. Would that we were all as famished for "some of that."
"Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled."(Matthew 5:6)
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Beauty for ashes

Sep. 27th, 2006 | 11:19 pm

One of the crysalises(sp.?) in the classroom burst and a lovely butterfly with silvery wings emerged! It was beautiful, and rather thought-provoking, what with the blood droplets that accompany the transformation. My boss is a Christian, and was quick to point out the symbolism of death and rebirth. Very appropriate, and also heartening to see that awkward, unattractive caterpillar become that lovely, unearthly creature of unspeakable grace and beauty! There is hope for the clunkiest of us, it seems.
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Too much, too little

Sep. 26th, 2006 | 09:04 pm

Today was a good work day. The children were pleasant, and I even had a little fun. I think I would be a happier person if I didn't walk into most days convinced that I wouldn't get what I want. Really, its quite foolish to think such thoughts, since I clearly do not KNOW what I want. Better yet, I wish I knew how I could be of service. I'm no slouch now, but clearly there is some fuzziness in light of occupation. Perhaps I have bought into that "be all that you can be" bologna(baloney?). After all, ALL and BEST aren't synonimous, and I've never liked the idea of a frantic, high-achiever type life-style. I'm much too fond of naps for that sort of thing. So, I'm trying to rev up to writing mode. I should have done it yesterday, since I definitely did have a private hissy fit. Unfortunately(or fortunately), I prayed and calmed down, and now have no inner turmoil to channel into literary genius(pah!). On the other hand, today I was talking with a student of mine(they certainly can't be called the cream of the crop, but they are sometimes very sweet) who had opted to stay in at recess. He is a very cheerful boy with eyes always in smiling slits. He came back to school from break with a hideous looking burn on the inside of his elbow. Apparently his elder brother managed to burn him with an iron(ugh!). We were discussing this elder brother, and how he accuses him of being gay and what-not. I told him he was no such thing, and then proceeded to share my own particularly uneventful romantic history, thinking to ease his mind. Can you believe it, the boy laughed at me! Not in a mean way, but he was just tickled at the absurdity of it all! I begin to think that is the tenor of my existence: a study in absurdity, but not a grotesque absurdity: more of a simplicity that borders on insanity. My only concern is whether I should embrace this apparent stasis, or whether I am being a lazy wretch who ought to get on with the business of living. Still, if I can serve as a foil to that wretched older brother, all the better.
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Look what I found!

Sep. 11th, 2006 | 10:53 pm

I found a beginning of a story in a notebook of mine, and I figured if I post it, it'll give me an insentive to finish the thing:
In these latter days the record of the first days of men on earth are summed up in a few short pages. Creation, corruption, destruction, then this present world. But echoes of what occured before this present time still sound dimly in our minds. These are necessarily romantic tales, for the sphere of these happenings has all but vanished, as this present sphere threatens to do as that day approaches.
One such echo is an anecdote centered around what would now be called fallen angels. Lilith and the like. Whether or not Lilith existed, certainly among those who sought to consort with humanity there were many who were enough like Lilith to warrant the tales surrounding that controversial personage. One such figure was the one known as Astera. Some say she was made an angel. Others claim that angels only took on male forms among us, and say that she was the spawn of an angel and a daughter men. Whatever her origins, Astera appeared as a woman, uncannily beautiful and tall. There was no acknowledged loyalty on her part to the Rebel at that time, though allegiences could be discerned by observant men and angels alike.
It was rumored that Astera lured men, mostly young, for love of her to practice strange acts in worship to angelic hosts, some say to the very one who fathered her, but this is not certain. Strange and vile whisperings of self-mutilation and slaughtered infants reached some, while other signs were visible in the strange and tragic perversions that dogged any man who ever associated with Astera. In time, Astera herself was reverenced by a strange breed of women who sought to gain her hold over their own men at whatever cost.
One such woman was Vana. Much like Astera herself, Vana possessed a fine tall figure and beautiful face, but Vana's face held also a deep sorrow of its own. She had been a friendless child, for her mother had been a widow in her brother's house. It is said that this brother was vile, and did not keep his sons from meddling with Vana as she grew. Nevertheless, a rich farmer took Vana to wife soon after she reached womanhood. He died before the year was out in a strange fit of convulsions, and Vana was sent again to her uncle. All too glad to recover her bride-price, the uncle established Vana, as well as his aged sister, in a small hut away from his own buildings, and left them to themselves.
(More Later...)

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The Blessing of Work

Sep. 10th, 2006 | 02:40 pm

Some years ago I remember priding myself on being thick-skinned and not letting things bother me. I am not sure what changed, but I find myself getting huffy about silly things. I am glad to notice the inconsistency, and the irrationality of my sentiments. Oh God, give me the capacity to bear burdens! Right now I feel like I am so taken up with trifles that I could implode, or just fold into myself like the little man in "The Great Divorce." It is something of a relief to have work to do, and have someone need something of me, so that I can set about a real task! Today my mother and sister compelled me to hem two pairs of pants that tend to drag whenever I wear them. Apparently they don't approve of that dirty, ragged fringe on pant-legs that was so popular a year or two ago(longer? I've lost track). It was rather pleasant, sitting in a sunny room doing a task that linked me to my sisters across the ages. How different these women must have been, to be able to sit still for so long, simultaneously resting and working, listening to their own thoughts, or perhaps conversing with a fellow sitter. I don't flatter myself that i am improved model compared to them. They represent those still waters for me, while I seem all churned up and, well, SHALLOW. Well, I'd rather not remain so. I think a prayer for work to do is seldom denied. So, at the risk of getting more than I reckoned with, I pray that I will have work to do, work that will fascilitate His working a depth in me, but also a simplicity. A clarity that needn't be mucked up with all that churning.
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Summer Magic

Sep. 5th, 2006 | 09:28 pm
location: Naomi's room
mood: pleasedrejoicing
music: flies on the butter

I was at Venice Beach yesterday, a beach famous for its freaky characters rather than its pristine waters. Which is why I was so surprised and pleased that a big, handsome porpoise saw fit to grace us with his presence while we were playing in the waves. He was lovely, splashing quickly beside us and then disappearing. I couldn't help squealing like a child. It made my day, perhaps my whole summer. There are times when the mundane weighs heavily upon me. It is true, I am cowardly, and certainly don't seek adventure of the wilder sort. But a moment like this, when I feel as though real life opens up in spite of me, makes me understand why heaven can exist. Real joy is unexpected, unimaginable, unknowable until you are in the midst of it. After he had gone, I looked for him, but couldn't spot him again. His presence was a gift, an affirmation of good will, a hint of sweeter things to come. Not something to chase after. Receive it and be glad. And so I was. And so I am.
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changing my mind

Aug. 31st, 2006 | 10:32 pm

Ugh! I am having trouble being forthright this evening. I just deleted a large paragraph of inane babblings. What I was trying to communicate was how frustrating it is to decide something, then be forced to change one's mind. I am having to change my mind a lot these days, which is why I bother trying to capture the experience at all. But I'm glad of it. I don't mind being wrong, when the right is better than I expected. I visited the place I used to live briefly yesterday. It was strange. A few things were different, but nothing to send one reeling. Anyhow, for some reason I felt quite bewildered. I felt like I was behaving strangely, like on my first day of kindergarten. I still remember bits of that day, sniffling a bit over my modeling clay as my mother left...I mention it because it all illustrates the broader sense of disortientation that characterizes my common experience these days. Anyhow, I think I need to learn how to behave myself. Start afresh, and all that. It isn't seemly for someone my age to go about like a warthog, plowing people under. If a bit of sifting is what it takes to make me courteous, so be it.
"And this word, Yet once more, signifieth the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that are made, that those things which cannot be shaken may remain." Hebrews12:27

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Dostoevsky

Aug. 29th, 2006 | 10:18 pm

I have a confession to make! I never read Crime and Punishment. That staple of American high school literature. I don't know how I slipped through the cracks! Well, actually, I do know how. My English teacher at the time had an unhealthy fixation on Hamlet, and made us pour over it for AT LEAST two semesters. What's worse, he made me hate it! In all fairness to Shakespeare, I recently reread Hamlet and liked it a great deal. So it was the teacher and his taudry take on the play. No Dostoevsky AND a bad interpretation of William S. to boot! Shame, shame! Badly done, Mr. ________! Anyhow, I began reading C&P a few days ago. I am enjoying it, as much as anyone can claim to "enjoy" Russian literature. It's rather like Listerine. You know its good to use it, but it hurts, it hurts, it hurts! Still, I envy the Russians their genuine bleekness. As that drunken man of Dostoevsky's says, people who suffer thus MUST be the more ready for the Kingdom of Heaven. I recently found out that my great, great grandmother was Ukrainian. It figures! That branch of ancestry has yielded no end of suffering (theirs, not mine)to harvest in my literary endeavors. I apologize if I sound prosaic and unfeeling about it all. I admit that I don't understand the first thing about suffering. All I know is that it is a thing to be respected, and for one who claims to desire an acquaintance with Christ, it is something to be anticipated, if not welcomed. Well, for the sake of Dostoevsky and those tragic ancestors of mine, I will herein quote Ecclesiastes 12:1,6 and Luke 6:22 and endeavor to take it to heart. It's hard, though. These things are so heavy, and everything in my experience has been so light and fluffy!
"Remember thy Creator in the days of your youth, while the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh, when thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them,...Or ever the silver cord be loosed, or the golden bowl be broken, or the pitcher be broken at the fountain, or the wheel broken at the cistern."
"Blessed are ye, when men shall hate you, and when they shall seperate you from their company, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of Man's sake."

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a very nice monday

Aug. 28th, 2006 | 09:52 pm

Today was a continuation of my surreal, homebound weekend. Actually, it was a very nice Monday! This morning for my convalescence I was compelled to sit outdoors in the shade for quite some time. It was lovely! Thanks to an awsome irrigation system out back, there are flowers abloom, shady fruit trees, white and gold butterflies and bees(nice, non-africanized ones) frolicking about, perhaps a frog or two... I had a ball, and ate the biggest, most scrumptious nectarine from the tree that has also been feeding a small army of ravenous june bugs(is there another name for these?). Why, I even had fun cleaning the bathroom! I had the radio blasting and felt like the karate kid. A nice ending to a LOOOONG weekend. Lord willing, I'll have a respite from contagious diseases from the elementary kids for a while. What with the two rashes and now this phlem-fest, I feel like swallowing a bleach tablet before going to work!
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quarantined

Aug. 27th, 2006 | 09:34 pm

Well, here I am at home under a self-imposed quarantine. The up-side to this harmless, yet persistent cough is that it gave me time to finish reading The Silmarillion. It was quite good. So sad, in just the right sort of way. The best authors make me so sad, but the sort of sadness that is better than cheeriness, I suppose its the sort of sadness that awakens a desire for a deeper, abiding consolation than this world cannot offer. Yes, thats it. A sadness that awakens a desire for the eternal.
Speaking of which, I felt like I was playing hookey staying home on a Sunday, heehee. Its quite childish, but I enjoyed myself nonetheless. I wonder if anyone else likes missing things just for its own sake? I think it delightful when someone says to me, "Oh, you weren't there that time. Where were you?" "Oh, I was sick that day." It's very lame. Probably, they were having oodles of fun, and I was in misery, but I still get a weird kick out of it all. I'll blame my big sis'(my most convenient cop-out) for ditching me as a child and giving me a sour-grapes complex.
But back to the Silmarillion, it was primarily about elves, yes? And they are always painted as wise and serene and somewhat impassive, at least for the most part. But all they do is fly into rages and kill people they shouldn't kill. When they aren't in blind rages, they have fallen in love with their jewels(holler, George MacDonald!Elect lady!) or their relatives, or their swords or whatever. And if that should fail, they are tricked into inviting Morgoth or Sauron to spend Christmas break at their house. What is up with these elves? Perhaps I am a suspicious, cynical little beast, and cannot fathom the tragic wheels that inevitably turn in the lives of the wise and great. Besides, its not that I didn't find it all tragic and beautiful. It was too tragic and beautiful, you know? When one is small and swarthy and has phlem caking the lungs, one grows weary of hearing about tall, pale people of undying beauty one after the other. I guess its the whole sour-grapes complex rearing its ugly head again. Boo!
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