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Ashes to Ashes: A Musing on Lent

February 20, 2007

 

Hashata hakha, l’shana haba b’ar’a d’yisrael;
Hashata avdei, l’shana haba bnei chorin.

 “This year here, next year in Israel!! This year slaves, next year free men!” (Jewish saying at Passover)

Human beings are amphibious creatures, created for eternity yet existing in linear time.  Thanks in no small part to the Industrial Revolution, it is easy to confirm that, at least in the West,  we are chained to the hands of a watch moving inexorably onward.  Even a century ago this was not so; planting would begin when leaves reached an approximate size and the workday would end around dusk.  Modern man, on the other hand, has life scheduled to the second (and wonders why he is under nearly constant pressure!).  We were not intended to live that way, faced with instantaneous change conflicting with an ingrained desire for stability. 

Think about why one of the most effective methods of torturers throughout history has been to deny their victims any sense of the true passage of time.  Separate man from knowledge of the season, day, or hour and he is lost and easily broken.   Call it circadian rhythms if you will, but we long for both transition and constancy.  Thanks be to our God, who has perfectly balanced the two.  It will be spring again, but always a *new* spring.  Feast and famine are balanced too, an apt reminder as we move towards the Great Fast of Lent.  If it was always winter but never Christmas, there would be no expectation or pleasure and life would be constant drudgery.  On the other hand, one cannot appreciate feasting without a sense of what it means to be deprived.  Judaism and liturgical Christianity allow for both, just as it should be.  When Jews celebrate the Passover, their joy in the Lord’s mighty deliverance is tempered by reminders (such as the maror, or bitter herbs) of the misery of slavery.  It is significant to remember that Christ’s last meal was a Passover seder as he both fulfilled all of the Passover customs and made them new by instituting the Lord’s Supper on that night. 

Lent must give way to Easter, sorrow to joy, but our joy is not yet complete.  Next year we may be free, but for now we are slaves, slaves to sin, slaves to this physical world.  Come quickly, Lord Jesus; because of your resurrection we hope to celebrate the Passover meal together with you once more in the New Jerusalem, ha aretz Yisrael

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From the Random Files…

January 29, 2007

myspace layouts, myspace codes, glitter graphics

Question of the day:

 If the moon is made of green cheese, what color are the mice on the moon?

Please post your answer in the form of a question for all those Jeopardy fans among my readers…

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Beauty Rest

January 6, 2007
 You scored as Sleeping Beauty. Your alter ego is Princess Aurora, a.k.a. Sleeping Beauty!

You are beautiful and enchanting, and as sweet as ever.

Sleeping Beauty
81%
Cinderella
81%
The Beast
69%
Goofy
63%
Snow White
56%
Pinocchio
50%
Ariel
50%
Peter Pan
44%
Donald Duck
44%
Cruella De Ville
31%

Which Disney Character is your Alter Ego?
created with QuizFarm.com

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Tempus Fugit, Or Make Haste Slowly

January 5, 2007

myspace layouts, myspace codes, glitter graphics

Reader beware; I am no prophet.  From me you shall hear no clarion call to action.  My  aspirations are far more humble in origin.  Resoultions can be found elsewhere (see myspace); allow me, however, to present my wishlist for the next 360 days. 

1.  I’d love to see Charles established in the career he’s been called to.  He will finish his Paramedic program and possibly even immerse himself in opportunities as a volunteer firefighter.  For myself, I stand poised at a crossroads; I know the type of career I’m suited for but the specifics still elude me.  By the end of 2007, I intend to be much more prepared to balance work and family. 

2. We will straigten out our finances and finally implement some of the strategies we’ve discussed (i.e. saving at least 3-6 months worth of essential expenses).  A more proactive and cautiously risky management of our portfolio will put us in a position to possibly purchase our first house by the end of the year.  In addition, we will significantly reduce the amount still outstanding on the Green Lantern (Charles’s truck). 

3. Getting myself into the best possible shape mentally and physically will start us down the path to beginning our family.  Essentially, I need less stress and more productive outlets for the stress I carry.  I’m concerned about my tendency to “sweat the small stuff”, as my mother would say. Charles and I will make a conscious effort to incorporate more quality time with each other every week; after all, proximity  is no replacement for honest conversation.        

4. I will progress towards maintaining (and strengthening) healthy relationships.  I complain often enough about feeling isolated, and if we end up moving I truly will be set adrift.  This introvert has every intention of reaching out before I stagnate.  

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The Truth and Nothing But the Truth…

January 4, 2007

Mood: Renewed
Song: “Sound of Silence” 

Breaking the silence, I present my autobiograpy in verse form.  Those of you who are my fellow English geeks will recognize the medium as an English (Shakespearean) sonnet. 

I wrote this as an example for my students, but the content comes directly from the recesses of my own psyche.  Please feel free to offer *constructive* feedback; I am no Philip Sidney, nor would I choose to be.  I know it’s a work in progress.

 Better yet, try your own version of the autobiopoem and either post the link or include it in the comments.  The gauntlet, my friends, has been officially thrown down.

White Rose Sonnet   

Oh what is in a name like Juliet?                                                                    

Does it foreshadow what I am to be?                                                             

From books I’ve learned what I cannot forget:                                               

That goodness, truth and beauty must guide me.                                                                                                                               

 With solemn thoughts I gaze upon the stars                                                   

And often sense my own transparency.                                                                      

Inspired by them, I long to have no scars,                                                      

But I must find a deeper way to see.                                                                        

I fear to fail but dread uncertainty                                                                                         

And could not bear to cause another pain.                                                                            

An ancient motto, “loyalty binds me”,                                                                                               

Is in my life both credo and refrain.                              

I am no piercing prophet with bold voice,

But, under mercy, in my call rejoice.     

Pinkies Up

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In Other News…

July 28, 2006

On this day in history…

1868 14th Amendment adopted
1932 Bonus Marchers evicted by U.S. Army

AMER. REVOLUTION
1776 Sargent and Hutchinson arrive at Horn’s Hook, New York

AUTOMOTIVE
1973 Bonnie & Clyde’s Ford V-8 sold at auction

CIVIL WAR
1864 Battle of Ezra Church begins

COLD WAR
1945 U.S. Senate approves United Nations charter

CRIME
1990 A soft drink containing liquid cocaine kills an unsuspecting drinker

DISASTER
1945 Plane crashes into Empire State Building

ENTERTAINMENT
1948 Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein opens

LEAD STORY
1976 WORST MODERN EARTHQUAKE:

LITERARY
1814 Percy Bysshe Shelley and Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin elope to France

OLD WEST
1923 Indian agent James McLaughlin dies

PRESIDENTIAL
1929 Future first lady Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy is born

VIETNAM WAR
1965 Johnson announces more troops to Vietnam

WALL STREET
1841 Senate passes Fiscal Bank Bill

WORLD WAR I
1914 Austria-Hungary declares war on Serbia

WORLD WAR II
1943 Hamburg suffers a firestorm

1980:  I was born in Las Vegas, NV

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I Believe…Help My Unbelief…

June 3, 2006

Mood: Trepidation

Song: "1-2-3"

Decisiveness has never been my forte.  Doesn't everybody fourth guess themselves?  Charles, on the other hand, makes decisions with an ease which astounds (and sometimes terrifies me too, I'll admit).  In our first year of marriage I've discovered that he often works out ideas by communicating them with his best friend/wife; thus, I know that with him the thought isn't always the deed, so I can hear him without immediately reacting by spiraling into a tailspin.  On the other hand, while I may may not seem thrilled initially, he recognizes that I simply need time to adjust and that I'm sure to see the logic in a little bit of time.  Thus, we balance each other, as marriage is intended to do. 

2005 was a year of change; 2006 has been comparatively tranquil.  Now I am faced with a further moment of challenge and I find myself unable to see beyond the immediate present to a successful resolution.  I became a teacher with the best of intentions, but I wonder whether or not I can survive another year with my ability to feel compassion unscathed (much less 30 'til retirement).  It is not that I fail to care about my profession or my students; it is that I care too much.  Ideally the educational system would value individuals (we're a nation founded on individualism, after all); the reality of a classroom of 30 students, however, the reality is that it becomes exceedingly difficult to find more than a few seconds to spend with each student before the rest of the class descends into nefarious acts of malfeasance.  To teach or not to teach:  that is the question.

I am an educator; it is more than a job…it defines who I am.  I know that I will continue to teach whether or not it is my profession.  I wonder whether the needs of specific students (particularly those at either end of the learning spectrum) are served at all by the public school system.  I've even dreamed of founding my own school for those who are not cut out to be "like stalks" so that they are not either stretched beyond their capacities or cut off to make the less able feel "special".  Unfortunately, our public schools are almost forced to see their precious students as numbers.  Don't even get me started on accountability (or No Child Left Behind); what sense does it make that teachers (and schools are judged by an arbitrary test that doesn't impact students?  How am I supposed to motivate them to care about what doesn't count (especially when legislators are too afraid of lawsuits to put teeth into NCLB by actually prohibiting students who don't meet the standards from graduating)?  It is no wonder teacher burnout is so common; I don't believe that I'm burned out yet, but I don't know what else to call this exhaustion of body and soul.  I've listed the pros and cons of job hunting outside of education.  I'm also practical enough to realize that just about anything else lucrative I could select will require more credentials (and we can't afford for me to take classes with Charles's school bills as well).  What to do, what to do? 

PROS:

1.  After the first year of teaching, everything else is downhill.

2.  I have a contract (unsigned as of yet-I don't want to breach), equalling security. 

3.  Good student aides make life much better.

4.  Charles is encouraging me to continue using my gifts (and credentials)

5.  Teaching gives me a sense of fulfillment and accomplishment that I've never been able to reach anywhere else.

6.  I am an effective teacher, whether my low self-image will allow me to acknowledge that or not

7.  Eye lyke Ynglish ande amm pashunate aboute itt. 

8.  A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.

9.  My school (and my district) does value excellence.

10. I already have ideas for next year

11. It would be wonderful to see where my amazing students end up

12. I do care about my kids (all 150 of them)  

CONS:

1.  Stress, stress, stress

2.  After a year, I still feel like an outsider in my department

3. As previously mentioned, education in the public school system is far from ideal

4. It would be nice to come home and BE home, and teaching is far from a 9-5 job

5. I am interested in pursuing other options, in particular Library Science

6. Charles will finish with his Paramedic training in November and both of us are ready to leave Arizona; signing another teaching contract would keep us in Mesa through May of next year.

7. Parents of students can either build you up or destroy morale

8. It's difficult to be judged by how my students perform, particularly because I'm a bit of a control freak

9. 150 students = 150 essays to grade :(.

10. Not teaching would allow me to put in extra hours moonlighting (like tutoring 1-2 nights per week) which would definitely help with our finances

11. Teaching would mean taking further courses (about 45 hours) in Secondary English Immersion, which costs money we don't have

12. We want to start our family in the next couple of years; I respect those who put in the hours teaching requires with children but I don't want to attempt it myself.  Thus, if I do anticipate changing careers, now's the time to try before becoming a mother

Lord, I believe you have a plan; I don't necessarily see where I am headed, but I trust that you do.  I believe…help my unbelief.

JRW