Friday, August 26, 2011


When I taught seventh grade, we had two ducks for class pets, Leonardo and Archimedes. They weren't real ducks, of course. Real animals and large numbers of thirteen-year-olds do not mix well. The ducks were made of polyester fluff and stuffed with beans, easy to care for, and small enough to sit on desks or on shoulders or to hang from the ceiling fan.

They provided low-key amusement for the students, but the ducks persistently mocked me. Education is serious business, after all. I wanted to rock students' world with wonders: the beauty of poetry, rhythm of mathematics, the nobility of history. In naming the ducks, the kids had reduced the nobility of art and numbers to balls of fuzz. I didn't like it. I didn't like it at all.

I thought school to be made of nobler stuff--of reaching beyond their grasp, of dreaming big and then making those dreams happen. That part was all right, but I also thought that I could make it all happen, that I had chosen this career and could bring it to life by the force of my own vision.
But I was wrong.

You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit--fruit that will last.-John 15:16

My job is not to enact my own vision, but Yours. I wanted to bring Truth and Beauty into the lives of youngsters, but that is not within my purview. Truth and Beauty belong to You and You deliver them to men. The fruit You want me to bear have arms and legs, flesh and blood. Truth and beauty are easy. They hover above this poor earth like beacons You gave to light the way. My job, whether a teacher or a plumber or a mother, is to deal with the messy parts, the people.

Now, Archimedes and Leonardo, they just sit there, wearing noble names and doing nothing, exactly the opposite of what You want for me. Any noble name I ever have, You will give. In the meantime, I must remember the beautiful, but work in the immediate. You have chosen it and it will last.

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