Sunday, June 17, 2012

How big is my world?

To me, it seems a dreadful indignity to have a soul controlled by geography.
George Santayana  

I am sitting with the Santayana quote and resonating with its point. Currently, I am enrolled in a class titled Intercultural Leadership. This class is pulling me in many directions as I read the material and reflect on how I function interculturally. Over the years I have had opportunities to experience people who are different ethnically, religiously and sexually who continue to teach me that the world is so much bigger than what I know. There are so many things I need to learn as I realize how limited my experiences really are and how I cannot even communicate with my religious sisters from Nicaragua due to language and cultural barriers. And, I have had an equivalent to three years of Spanish and am still like a stone. There was a time when I was going to have an immersion experience to learn the language and more about the Nicaraguan experience which unfortunately fell apart. I do want to be more proficient at crossing cultural borders, not for the sake of knowledge but for the sake of the other. The past nine years living in Chicago, then on the Navajo reservation, and the past five in Milwaukee (my birth place) has opened up a greater desire to diversify my life. As I move back to Fond du Lac there will be a shift in what I am exposed to on a daily basis. I imagine that my world could become much smaller  and am conscious that this is not a time to seek safety, rather I am moving to grow and learn and discover what it is that is calling me back to the source of my religious life and the home of CSA. 

A couple of months ago I was knuttering about not teaching, wondering whether I was ready to take the risk of losing my connection with young people when my mom said, "Honey, there are plenty of young people in Fond du Lac. I'm pretty sure you won't run in short supply." The gift of young people in my life is that as a teacher they call me to an authenticity that has never before been demanded of me. I do not know how to explain it. What I do know is that every morning I prepare for school and know that if I am not real the students knew it, and sure enough the days I attempted to be a fake were just plain disastrous. If you want to be exposed and vulnerable try standing before a room of 30 students and act like you have it all together. They will come at you without mercy until you are able to meet them through the condition of your humanity. For me teaching is a practice in rapport building and when I do not trust they can smell it. Well, I will not be teaching high school students next year and am trying my hand at something else. I learned two weeks ago that I will be teaching one undergraduate course (a freshmen seminar) and co-teaching Spirituality and Leadership (with one of my professors from my own undergrad years...double yeah on that). So, I will be with a mixed group of people who will be new to me, and this will likely prevent my world from collapsing on itself. Have a great week and notice how your soul is freed beyond your social location if possible (that's what I will be attempting)!

1 comment:

  1. As I reflect on crossing over to a new place, I came to an insight a couple of months ago and shared it with one of my closest friends in Nicaragua. I have discovered many people along the Mexican-Arizona border who know the language, but do not know the people. The language is important; there's no doubt in that. There is understanding that moves beyond the language to the heart. Perhaps that doesn't even say enough. I have learned much about the language of the heart. No matter how hard we try to be part of people's lives, we can never be their culture nor can they be us. We need to listen and listen and listen some more. Last week I received a phone call from a Mississippi friend and she told me I will always be a part of their lives. She further said: You have learned to love us not by becoming us, but by talking and walking and being with us. I miss Mississippi and I miss people who have journeyed with me. I keep connecting as you do too, Vicki. As long as your heart makes those connections you will always find the people that you love and who love you.