Monday, August 26, 2013

First Cup—And so it begins again…

Fall 1966 to Fall 2013—47 years minus a few during my Anderson years. So, perhaps, altogether I’ve been teaching 40 years. What else has lasted so long—my marriage is two years older; our children follow closely behind. If I add attending school into that, I’m talking about my entire life “in service” to the cause of learning. Not bad. From sophomore English classes at Red Bluff Union High School to senior adjunct at Warner Pacific College—a long and often fruitful journey. A journey of running from self to self-discovery. A journey away from God and of God-discovery. A journey of failure and regret and a journey of success and joy. A journey by myself, lonely, sometimes lost and fearful and a journey with others, significant others, pilgrims who helped each other along the way. A journey with students who become friends and friends who become my teachers.

Today, I begin three classes: EN 101, which I teach as part of the Freshman Year Learning Communities program. I’ve already met with these men and women and am already impressed. Smart. Thoughtful. Interested and interesting. I am eager to join them more explicitly on their journey—who knows what friendships may emerge? Who knows what truth will be revealed?

My prayer for this class: May they discover the wonderful gift they are; may they discover the beauty of learning and growing; may they discover the power of expression and thoughtful discourse; may they relax into the journey and learn to pay attention to the world around them and the God who loves them. May I be a good and thoughtful and caring guide for them—a guide who sheds enough light for them to find their way and stewards the darkness that they may understand the power of light and live in the mystery of life.

REL 320, Spirituality, Character and Service, which is a key course in the college core that invites us (students and teacher) on a journey of self-discovery: Who am I? Who am I in relationship to God and who am I in relationship to the other? Questions to love and live into.

My prayer for this class: Self-discovery is never easy; self-discovery and God-discovery, at the same time, is exciting and dangerous. May these students find the way challenging but not daunting; fearful and hopeful; thoughtful and reflective—may they see themselves more clearly and follow God more nearly. May they see this class as opportunity to discover and reflect on a greater and more compassionate and loving role in their world. May I be a wise guide. May I be a good companion—one who has traveled a road like theirs and can help them find their way.

HUM 410, Humanities Seminar, the capstone humanities course. These are students nearing the end of this stage of their academic journey. They are a bit weary; the end is near yet still so far off. In some ways, this is the last thing they want to be about, but what an opportunity—to take a deep breath and ask where am I? What have I learned? Does any of this make enough sense to put down on paper? What difference has these last years of study make in my life and what difference may they make in the world in which I move?

My prayer for this class: It is both a time of attraction and avoidance—happy to be coming to a place of stopping and rest and fearfulness of arriving at an end. It is an end and my prayer is that, together, we’ll make a good end of it. I pray that they will see the opportunity this presents and embrace it as a way to engage fully this time in their lives. I pray that this will be a time to stop and breath deeply, relax, and enjoy the opportunity, find their voice, and speak out into their world the wisdom of their journey. My prayer for me is simply that I will be a good, compassionate companion at this closure, helping them to value their years and speak their word.

Lord, have mercy. Christ, have mercy. Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on us all.

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