Beginner's Heart

Beginner's Heart


the candle and the mirror

candle in mirror

There are two ways of spreading light:
to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it.
Edith Wharton

When I was young, and my dreams as new-bright as clean copper, I believed I would set the world on fire. Somehow I would change what was wrong — poverty, ignorance, social injustice. There were, after all, so many of us who thought that. Surely we couldn’t fail.

So the fire of the candle — its yellow-white & blue light — lit those dreams brightly. Truth and justice would fill me, I was certain, and I would burn a path of justice through my time.

It hasn’t worked like that. :)

Teachers — and writers, really — aren’t candles. Sometimes we’re not even very good mirrors. But at our best (& luckiest), we reflect brightly the flames within our students. Our friends. Our readers. These days, I am trying every day to be a mirror.

There is little as satisfying as showing someone s/he can write. That within them are the words to tell an important, dearly cherished story. Often someone arrives in a class of mine — and this has happened as far back as my first teaching, more than 30 years ago — convinced they can do nothing well. Certainly not write. From pre-schoolers who can’t string macaroni to 94-year-old women who worry that their poetry is boring, fear of failure knows no age. And yet I’ve never met anyone who wants to learn — who wants to write — who can’t. It’s just a matter of desire, practice, and reflection.

You do need a mirror, however. To show you how brightly the flame you carry inside can burn. How brightly all our candles burn. And I’m here for that. Perfectly happy, these days, not to have blazed a flaming path. Perfectly happy to be just a mirror, spreading light.



Previous Posts

ritual and meditation
Genuine, heartfelt ritual helps us reconnect with power and vision as well as with the sadness and pain of the human condition. When the power and vision come together, there’s some sense of doing things properly for their own sake. Making a proper cup of tea means that you thoroughly and complete

posted 12:07:21pm Sep. 28, 2014 | read full post »

love and mirroring, or, we are not our faults
I'm not (I think...?) a needy person, someone who seeks love and affirmation for everything s/he does. What I do like is when I can just love folks. My folks, of course -- not as good w/ the whole hoi polloi. My friends, family, the people I journey with. Love is a pretty good mirror, actually. M

posted 4:20:51pm Sep. 27, 2014 | read full post »

throwback Thursday (the anniversary version)
Once upon a time (and it was a very long time ago) there were a very young man and a very young woman. They fell in love & eventually (much to their parents' delight) married. They didn't know any ministers -- neither being church-goers -- so they asked their religion professor to marry them.

posted 3:34:30pm Sep. 25, 2014 | read full post »

life is complicated...
Sometimes I wish life was less ... nuanced. Complicated, in other words. I wish I didn't feel I have to vote w/ my $$ when companies aren't ethical. Since $$ are all many US corporations seem to value, I've started publicising their choices, and asking others to join me in refusing to support bad

posted 4:16:36pm Sep. 24, 2014 | read full post »

Mondays
Poor Monday. Even after retirement, it remains the ugly dog you'd like to love, but somehow can't. Too many memories of weekends spent catching up, and Monday showing up waaay too early. Today's a lovely day -- c

posted 12:00:17pm Sep. 22, 2014 | read full post »




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