Saturday, September 23, 2006

Walking and Talking

A student once said to me "You can make something spiritual out of anything!" I took that as a compliment, the way I think it was meant. I'm not saying it's entirely true, but I will say that I do find spiritual meaning in a lot of things around me. Whether it's in what I see, what I hear, what I read, there's always a deeper meaning, always something more beyond the surface. Even in human beings. Especially in human beings.

Years ago, I used to teach the story of Jesse sophomores, if I remember right. Seems as if we had a story about him in our literature anthology. One year, during the Olympics, they ran a made-for-TV mini-series about Jesse Owens and I taped it and showed it in conjunction with that story for a few years. To this day, one of the phrases repeated several times over throughout the story resonates with me...perhaps more so now that I am principal. It starts with a PE teacher seeing something special in Jesse (J.C. then). He goes to his house one afternoon and asks him to take a walk. "If we walk long enough and talk long enough, we might come to understand one another," he said to Jesse. That phrase stuck with Jesse and he uses it later in his life when he finds himself in a jam, or when he sees a kid he thinks he could work with.

I've been thinking of that phrase this past week. In fact, I worked that phrase into the devotional I gave to the academy staff at the beginning of the week, and practiced the phrase not once but at least a dozen times during the week, with both kids and staff. Talking so we came to understand each other made a difference for the six students I had to suspend, and for the staff who wrestled with the situation. And it made a difference when I had to calm down some 20 girls who were riled up over the dress code. Walking and talking changed everything.

Same thing happens if we walk and talk with God. When all seems lost or distorted, taking a walk or having a talk changes everything. When people don't make sense and the world seems as if it's falling apart, taking a walk or having a talk brings it all back into focus. Priorities change, peace floods in, calm takes over.

True, it's not quite as easy as that...which is where the walking and talking come in. If we do it long enough, "we might just come to understand one another." It worked this week. Well enough to do it again next time...


Sunny said...

Mmm, I think you have found your true calling. You are your father's child.

mulberrypatch said...

Literature served you well this week! Literature opens your mind to new concepts and ideas. In the Love Comes Softly film series, Marty tells Missy that she can go anywhere in the world when she reads a book. That's why reading is so important--it gives you a basis or a foundation to return to when faced with situations that life throws your way. Thanks for sharing this insight from your difficult sounding week. I'm still learning from you! :-)