Sunday, July 24, 2011

I Trust the Earth

When I remember what is really going on here, when I feel trees pushing forth new leaves, wind spelling secrets across my face, ground pulling and pushing at me simply because I stand in awe upon this Mother, when I remember my ancestors and know they have reckoned with a sentient earth too, built fires and told stories, when I laugh at the absurdity of a chaotic post-industrialism and the supreme irony of a ‘schooling’ that has made a mockery of the human spirit’s innate love of learning, when I gather these seeds of who I am and what we are, then I can enter the classroom awake, alive, and ready.

My students, those kids who assemble outside my door jostling for a spot of truth in this mirage of make-believe, who insist that tees breath and talk, who know they are ready to break the rules because the artifice of culture is already fractured from tip to tip, who gaze steadily when I mention ancestors, who get real quiet when I utter something about magic, who gallop across the fields when we remember our deepest glories, who will make fire with sticks and tools of stone because it is cooler than video games, these kids are both awaiting a more authentic future, and are willing to ruthlessly and with little grace dismantle all semblances of the artifice. They are untamed but also know that taming is a kind of blinding sometimes. They want to stay awake, alive, breathlessly in awe. They don’t want our path but they want us to point them towards their path. They will ‘behave’ if it is noble to do so, but a fresh nobility must be modeled to them daily, and sometimes the noble path has to be irreverent. They are so tired of hypocrisy and they can’t even spell that word yet. They are ready for the self-discipline of great challenges, but will not settle for the arbitrary or mundane tasks, and they can see the charade a mile away. They are strange little warriors and they will light the future. They will not be spoon fed nor force fed, and they will not listen to nonsense for long. They will learn respect only if the disrespect of the adult world is consistently called out. They will not apologize unless they feel remorse, and sometimes they are afraid to feel at all because reality has gotten so big and wild and exposed.

I am a teacher. I don’t know what that means entirely. I am not the docent of someone else’s standards, I am not laying out a red carpet for the college-bound, I am not molding the obedient citizen, I am not minimizing the deep confusion of growing up in 21st century complexity. I am responsible to my own growth as a mentor, to the endless yearnings of this earth for proper guides and role models, to the emergence of a New Story that will guide humanity out of systemic violence, and for the embracing and welcoming of each unique spirit that comes right through the eyes of every one of my students. I am mandated to ask questions of everything, to preserve innocence while I also reckon with truth, to insist that content take a back seat to character knowing that meaningful content is waiting for the strong and gentle hands of a mature caretaker. I am listening every day for the guidance that our earth consistently offers each of us. I trust this process. I trust my students and the ancient dance we are in. I trust the earth.

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