The Road to Hell. . .

is paved with good intentions. Or so they say.

I am the fulcrum of a seesaw.
An actively mobile plank of wood
Stretching across a single point -

I am two children riding a seesaw.
A constantly wavering solid beam
Carrying up and down its young riders -
Me and Me.

I am the fulcrum and the riders.
An often vascillating single entity
Striving for person, wife, teacher -
Me, Me, and Me.

I would be a merry-go-round.
A simple circle of level steel
Spinning endlessly its single role -

Naomi's poetry obsession is contagious. . .I haven't written poetry in ages. I also haven't posted in ages, as said person so relentlessly reminds me. I've been protecting the computer from vituperative entries about obnoxious behavior and undesirable attitudes that, apparently, are also contagious. However, with Kevin now finished with classes for the semester and a faint light at the end of my own tunnel, I am beginning to feel a spark of hope. Actually, it may have more to do with a certain visitor at the end of this week and a coming day off. Or both.

I confess I am finally becoming anxious for this school year to end. I need some breathing space. Some listening space not filled with an infinite string of profanities. Some speaking space that doesn't require a near shout. Some space, period. I cannot imagine doing this for a lifetime. How does one protect oneself from the continual bombardment? I fancy myself capable of sufficient protection for a few short years, but for a life? The secret, I am sure, is in Scripture - the eternal breath of fresh air that purifies our sin-sick souls. Yet even Scripture so easily is pushed aside in the constant craze and demand of this 60-hour-a-week job. I must improve my time management. Later. When I have time. . .


Gwendolyn Brooks, ee cummings, T.S. Eliot

I replaced the Gwendolyn Brooks link below, but I think I should offer a few words of warning. Or rather, of explanation.

The poem is included in the midst of an essay, also by Brooks. To understand what's there, you should know that Gwendolyn Brooks is a black poet who lived through the Civil Rights movement. I do not like everything I have read of hers, but I do appreciate her sometimes-sarcastic insight into social issues. This particular poem happens to be my favorite explanation of the irony of Western foreign policy. . .although I'm sure it could be interpreted in other ways as well.

As for ee cummings, I enjoy his lack of conventionality in syntax. I don't always understand him or agree with him when I do, but I do appreciate his originality. "anyone lives in a pretty how town" is a modernist-type poem about isolation, I suppose. Odd, because just yesterday I was proclaiming how I dislike modernist work. It's so empty. Maybe it's just the novels I don't like. . .prolonged emptiness. It's not the emptiness I like about this poem, of course, but the recognition that people contribute to it through ignorance and lack of consideration for their fellow man.

We're going to tackle "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" today in class. It's empty and random. Modernist work saddens me; loneliness and isolation are such avoidable tragedies. However, I continue reading it on occasion for that very reason--for the reminder that I have a part in rejecting that emptiness in my own life and the lives of those I come in contact with.

I really must be going. . .students will be (I am sure) eagerly awaiting their introduction to T.S. Eliot.


Shakespearean Insults

Yesterday, I read this and thought it very fitting. . .

Ungracious wretch,
Fit for the mountains and the barbarous caves,
Where manners ne'er were preached! Out of my sight!
(Twelfth Night)

Today, I read this and felt remorseful. . .

I think thou never wast where grace was said.
(Measure for Measure)

Unfortunately, my remorse only lasted until 4th hour started.


For Sell: One Sin Nature

. . .selectively active at inconvenient times, primarily when in positions of public responsibility. That is, unless expected, in which case primary activity reverts to moments of relative solitude.

I just typed this whole thing, and the computer lost it. I shall try again.

My certain key students in 4th hour were back today. I am perfectly aware that, by allowing my temper to rise, I am letting them win. I am perfectly aware that I am solely responsible for my actions. I am perfectly aware that the atmosphere and attitude of my classroom is largely controlled by my response to stimuli. I am also acutely, wistfully aware that it is much easier to be patient and cheerful and godly in the safety of my home and husband than in the face of these uncouth adolescents.

I would say that they bring out the worst in me, were I not suspicious that the very phrasing of that cliche in some way shirks personal responsibility. Of course, I'd like nothing better than to shirk that responsibility right now. Nothing, that is, except perhaps to wreak revenge. I suppose that would be unprofessional, though. I'm not sure what I would do, anyway. . .find some way of making them sit down and be quiet and participate in edifying activities maybe. I don't know what to do with them. I can't remonstrate--they argue back. I can't discipline--they laugh. I can't ignore--the noise level alone indicates that no learning is taking place. What does that leave?

I know that they will not and cannot change until my attitude changes. However, I don't want change. I want to win. I want to prove my dominance and shame them into obedience. How very primal.

Sold. Paid for and redeemed in Blood. Feel free to discard at any time.


Working Late and Recounting Drama

I'm still at school, finding anything to keep me from starting to grade the projects that my sophomores turned in today. I should just get started. One of my students from last semester just stopped in to chat. That makes me feel good. They may hate me in class, but at least I have some friends afterward. Ha.

On the bright side, I have a delightful and polite student here working late, too. The end of the quarter is Friday, and he's trying desparately to pass. He has a great smile and actually says thank you when I answer a question. Amazing. Besides, I get paid for overtime if there's a student here. . .it counts as tutoring, and Title I pays for me to tutor after school. Since it's Wednesday, Kevin's still in class, so I'm not missing much at home. . .just doing laundry and cleaning the kitchen. I'm sure they'll still be there when I leave here.

About my 4th hour trauma, err, drama this week. . .

we were supposed to have our class Renaissance banquet yesterday. Until Monday afternoon, when I cancelled it, that is. Behavior and respect were less than ideal during class Monday, and the last 10 minutes were more than I could handle. I gave up trying to talk. . .give instructions for the banquet. . .and sat down. Then, since no final preparations had been completed, I spent 30 minutes after school calling every student's home to call off the banquet. I was. . .what's that word? Livid. No, probably not. Just extraordinarily weary and frustrated. Angry, perhaps. Behavior was slightly better yesterday. Today much better. . .some key people were absent. Grades, on the other hand, are looking bad. The Renaissance banquet is generally a good grade-booster. Several students who had a good chance of passing with it are now in dire straits. However, I shall refuse to accept responsibility for that. I'm not the one who didn't turn in their assignments.

Enough. I must be productive. Farewell.

Laughable Contradictions

In my overwhelming dread of facing the holy terrors in my 4th hour yesterday, I took as my encouragement a verse from Proverbs 31: "Her mouth opens with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her lips."

I was thinking about that as I ripped the page off my daily Shakespearean insult calendar and read, "Thou elvish-marked, abortive, rooting hog!" I almost laughed aloud.

Do you suppose Shakespearean insults are truly healthy? Perhaps I should get rid of them.


The Holy Spirit: Gifts

Yesterday in Sunday School we talked about spiritual gifts. I don't have a huge amount of time, but I'll introduce a few of the questions. My own personal study will have to wait for a later date.

1. How are spiritual gifts different from natural talents/abilities? Are they?
2. What is the purpose of spiritual gifts?

The answers taught are as follows, with my thoughts in italics.

1. Some spiritual gifts are obviously different from natural talents/abilities, ie: soccer. Otherwise, the test is in what the gift is used for. Also, spiritual gifts are only for the elect.

The test is in how the gift is used? More on that with the next question. . . .
As for being only for the elect, I need to study on that. I think it's a Calvinist v. Armenian question. I know I've been taught that some people may use their spiritual gifts for the wrong purposes. The major example given is Balaam, along with a couple in the NT (The NT examples are questionable, as most of them could be explained as satanic. The Balaam example is questionable; were spiritual gifts the same under the old covenant?) So, basically, I suppose it boils down to free will to use God's gifts as we choose or predestination that gives them only to the elect. Perhaps therein lies the difference between spiritual gifts and natural talents--God gives everyone natural talents, but only the elect receive spiritual gifts. I'm not sure.

2. Three purposes were named, with the stipulation that any gift not serving all 3 purposes is not a spiritual gift. The purposes are: to build the body/unify, to glorify God, to promote personal growth in faith.

There is first of all the question of whether teaching some "non-spiritual" subject can still be counted as the spiritual gift of teaching (or similar situation with another gift). Can a spiritual gift be used for a purpose that is not explicitly spiritual? Granted that there is really no distinction between sacred and secular, but does teaching math build the body? Does it promote personal growth? I'm not sure about this definition, but I can't completely deny its validity yet.
Secondly, some of the gifts (ie: prophecy, tongues, interpretation) are explicitly said to be for the body, not for individual growth.

That's a summary. I'll look at the verse references and record some study results when I have time.


Revealing Abstractions

I have come to realize several things about myself this week. . .things pertaining to a certain situation that I don't care to discuss. However, the realization of those things and my subsequent action has led to realization of certain other things I do care to discuss. So, with that bewildering introduction, I shall begin. . .

Sometimes I do what I think is the right thing, and I'm not happy. After the thing is over and done with, I discover that I am miserable, upset, moody, sulky, and generally disagreeable. After I settle down, I come up with an explanation for my poor reaction to the situation. I explain what the problem was THIS time to those involved and make minor adjustments for the next occurrence of the particular situation. However, when it comes, I find that those adjustments make no difference. My reaction is still decidedly not in keeping with Christian character. So I contemplate. Eventually, I decide that perhaps this is not the right thing at all. At the next recurrence of the situation, I take the opposite action. I am not comfortable with my choice. It is not what I want to do or even what I know is right. I don't know. I can't decide which is the worse of the two evils. So, having tried the first and not received any happiness, I decide to try the second. . .with only a vague realization that that is indeed what I am doing. Unfortunately, my new course of action turns out worse than the first. Not only am I miserable, but this time I know that I have good reason to be miserable. It is not my moodiness or my refusal to respond with love; it is the confrontation of Christ inside of me with sin. This was the wrong choice; I regret that I had to experience it before I would see.

The conclusion? My emotional response to doing the right thing is not always one of happiness. I do not have to be happy. In fact, I may even be miserable. It does not excuse sulking or moodiness. Doing the right thing does not give me the right to act like a martyr. I have not really done the right thing if I do not do it meekly and pleasantly, with a cheerful spirit. Moreover, my own personal moodiness is not an indication that I should change my actions. It is only an indication that something is wrong. . .and that something may very well be me.

Little life lessons. . .lessons we already know and yet must relearn over and over. What a mixed blessing my humanity is.


Fooled by April Fool's

A Lesson in Lessening. . .

The day I've feared and fretted over has passed. As it turns out, no one carried out any mischief. . .except a few of the teachers, that is. I'm amazed. I do not often get worked up over future potential for problems. Perhaps this lesson will lessen the number of times I do.