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Archive for the ‘Poetry’ Category

We’ve been discussing World View recently in an effort to give some background on author beliefs. I begin the discussion with the explanation that everyone in the world has to answer Three essential questions: Where did I come from? (Meaning how did the world begin), Why am I here?, and Where am I going when I die? I then lay out all the major world religions (Judaism, Christianity, Catholicism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Agnosticism, and Atheism) and explain how they answer these questions.

Next, we read Holy Sonnet XIV by John Donne and The Noiseless Patient Spider by Walt Whitman. We examine each for the author’s beliefs. John Donne’s work is ordered and rhymed (design) and demonstrates his deep longing for a relationship with God. Whitman, on the other hand, writes in a free verse style (no rhyme or rhythm), and demonstrates his lack of answers to the essential questions. In his own words, he is “Seeking the sphere’s to connect.”

Usually, it’s one of my favorite lessons, as it provokes a lot of questions about a number of different things. This year, though, my mom came to visit me in the middle of the week. She had been watching a number of specials on this generation, and when I said she was welcome to come to school to meet my kids, she said not only would she like to, but that she’d like to speak as well. Shocked, I agreed.

Even my rowdiest kids were silent and attentive as she shared five stories. She began with an explanation that we are in a battle daily between good and evil, and that their age group is especially vulnerable, being at the age where moral decisions are made. She then shared the story of Joseph, explaining how his brothers had mistreated him and sold him into slavery. She explained how he was falsely accused, after gaining favor with his new master, and thrown in jail. Yet, at the end of the story, he had risen to prominence and saw his brothers again at a time when they need his help. He explains that he has made the choice to forgive them because he knew God had a purpose for all the harm that had come to him.

The next story she shared was about my grandpa, who was one of the oldest of twelve children. He had to drop out at eighth grade to help his family put food on the table. He went to work in the mines, but eventually began selling equipment, becoming so good that he was in charge of the sales distribution from Mexico to Canada through the Western United States. Ashamed of his eighth grade education, he consistently bettered himself through extensive reading.

The third story was about her. My mom has dyslexia, but determined to do well. While reading was difficult for her, she had auditory and observations skills which helped her learn and allowed her to graduate valedictorian of her class. She then went to college, where she graduated with highest honors and became a teacher.

Fourth, she shared about me, and how I had been born with a heart problem, and had to have three surgeries where I could have died. She explained that during my first surgery (when I was two), God assured her that He had a special call on my life. She looked my kids in the eye and said, “And you’re it.” She explained how God had given me a love for junior highers and that I cared about them. In a recent interview, students who had started out in gangs and drugs then turned their lives around were asked what made the difference in their lives. They each shared that they had someone who cared about them, and they had decided to quit making stupid choices. She explained that they had someone who cared about them (me), but the last part was up to them.

Finally, she shared a story from the war. A convoy had driven into an ambush, and after a bomb went off and they were being sniped, the sergeant was trying to get the wounded into the vehicles that were still operational, and he looked around to see a soldier standing, dazed. He said, “Soldier, get in the truck and drive!” The soldier responded, “But, sir, I’ve been shot.” To which the sergeant replied, “We’ve all been shot. Get in the truck and drive.” My mom explained that she’s learned that everyone’s been shot. We’ve all had hard times that we can use as an excuse or a launching point. Our job is to get in the truck and drive.

The talk had a huge impact on my kids, who all too often are tempted to use the circumstances of their lives as an excuse. Once again, it was another great opportunity to let them into my lives, and we were all richer for the experience. I think my favorite part of the day was a student telling me, “I really like your mom. I know that sounds like a ‘Your momma joke”, but I really mean it.” Definitely a memorable experience!

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