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

adventures and distances
We're big on adventures in my family. My beloved enlisted in the Marines during Việt Nam because he wanted to see what it was like. (My mother-in-law -- loopy about many things -- STILL goes ballistic if you ment

posted 12:48:05pm Sep. 14, 2014 | read full post »

small signs from the universe
I believe in signs. I believe that the universe -- some might say god, I probably wouldn't :) -- talks to you. Where I last worked FT, the joke on the 4th floor (where I officed) was Britton believes the universe

posted 3:24:29pm Sep. 13, 2014 | read full post »

a nice hot cuppa
It's chilly outside -- down 49 degrees tonight! And life is chaotic, as we adapt to a downstairs bed for my beloved, a dining table 'office,' and all the other accoutrements of a busted ankle. So here's what you do when life sends you mail you'd like to return to sender: make a cup of tea. Someth

posted 4:45:11pm Sep. 12, 2014 | read full post »

interconnection and the web (of support)
Can you say trimalleolar ankle fracture, three times, FAST? As I said the other day, it means all three bones in your ankle fractured. Broke, busted. And a big OUCH. My poor husband. Today his right ankle look

posted 5:52:29pm Sep. 09, 2014 | read full post »

hands and feet and time
Time. Time to talk, time to laugh, time to share food. Time to poke fun at those you love, time to remember. Time and sisters. This past week I spent days in Dallas (actually McKinney) w/ one of my three sisters and her beloved. A few days after I arrived, our other two sisters decided to drive d

posted 8:58:33pm Sep. 07, 2014 | read full post »




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