Yes, I am back to teaching college English. I was a bit surprised at how quickly I said yes when asked to teach a few classes. I was surprised at how good it feels to be part of something with such meaning and purpose. And I was surprised at how at home I felt greeting the first classes of students. I must be a teacher. How many years have I wondered what I am supposed to be doing, what it all means, what my place in the world is? Sometimes we stumble over the obvious.
Earlier this week I had students write a few sentences in answer to “My favorite place in the whole world is . . . . I read all their responses looking not just at sentence structure and punctuation, but at the little window each student offered me into their spirit. So many said that their favorite place was not a place at all—but with their family . . . when I’m with my daughters, when I’m with my boyfriend, when I’m with my parents. It reminds me of what Bert Hellinger said to us when we flew to Germany to interview him. He said, “What do people think about? What do people care about? The family.”
Even when we are angry or feel shortchanged by family, we are still thinking about family. I know that being back in northern Minnesota after 30 years is not just about our beautiful land or our little straw bale house, but about my family. Tonight my brother and his wife popped over to say good bye to Lorna (our daughter has been helping out for a couple of weeks and is leaving in the morning), and it felt amazing that my brother could just suddenly appear in my yard and that I could be so happy to see him even though I see him most every day. Another brother popped in to borrow a ladder.
I remember all of those years of living in South Dakota I would make the long drive once or twice a year to visit family. The last 100 miles were always the longest because I would get this feeling deep in my middle that felt like extreme thirst. That is my best explanation. Part of that was that I knew that when I drove up that long drive to the house my father built for his family, that he would come out of the house with a big smile on his face and kiss me on the lips. (My father was a kisser—we are all kissers.) For the last 100 miles I would anticipate that kiss. It meant I was home.
I know that people find all kinds of cruel ways to hurt one another—family especially—but it is all made more real and more painful because we are so linked to that family. They share our blood. And we bring others into our family in ways that is not quite a strong, but nearly so. I loved reading the students’ words—my favorite place is with my family.
Some people think that it is our reasoning mind that makes us human. I think it is that we are capable of the kind of love that makes you feel thirsty for a kiss, that makes you feel weak with anger when that love is wounded, that makes you yearn to have a real connection to another.
Love—ain’t it grand?
Teaching school, building a house, growing a garden—those are all things we do. Loving—is what we are.
Leanne, my dear, I am not going to apologize for being absent on my blog for a couple of weeks. It’s just . . . well, life carried me away. And life is a good thing.
In another week or so we will be sleeping in our brand new bedroom addition. It begins to feel like a mansion. We even have a flush toilet!
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