So, I’ve been thinking about 2 things a Friend said at Meeting for Worship last week. Actually, it was after the official rise of meeting when the community was gathered for a celebration and saying farewell to a weighty Friend (not necessarily a heavy friend, just someone whose opinion is respected and whose ideas carry weight in the community) who is moving out of the area. The Friend who spoke shared these two quotations (I have linked to where I found the sources):
1. a Northwest Native American story that is an answer to the question of what to do when one is lost:
Here is the answer the elder gives:
Stand still. The trees ahead
and bushes beside you
Are not lost. Wherever you are is called Here.
And you must treat it as a powerful stranger.
Must ask permission to know it and be known.
The forest breathes. Listen. It answers.
I have made this place around you.
If you leave it you may come back again.
No two trees are the same to Raven.
No two branches are the same to Wren.
If what a tree or a bush does is lost on you.
You art surely lost. Stand still.
The forest knows
Where you are. You must let it find you.
According to this site, Bert Hoff’s, it was translated by David Wagoner.
2. a quotation from Victor Hugo, “Be like the bird that, passing on her flight awhile on boughs too slight, feels them give way beneath her, and yet sings, knowing that she hath wings.” (source)
Both are thought-provoking and were such relevant ideas for the situation. And, both are so applicable to life in the classroom. These two ideas–of not really being lost if we can just alter our perspective and of being able to sing as the branch gives way beneath us–sum up exactly what I want for my students.
As the year progresses, I want them to feel lost in something new, to feel overwhelmed by an idea for in doing so they will learn (with guidance) to find reorient themselves. We will have to practice being lost lots of time so that when that feeling of being lost comes over them, their reaction can be to stand still and look around with the understanding they can be found.
Similarly, as my students find themselves on shaky ground (be it in math, social studies, language arts, or a playground drama) I want them to learn not to fall to the ground and cling to an old idea or habit, but rather to sing out confident in their wings. Perhaps that means asking for help, perhaps that means trying again without getting upset, or maybe it just means taking a deep and trusting oneself to have those wings.
I have much more thinking to do on these two ideas. This Friend has spoken his mind and in doing so has spoken mine. I just didn’t know it until now.