May 6, 2010

Introducing: The Teacher


Ask a simple question, a simple answer isn't always best, sometimes the best answer is a story.  This seems to be a recurring theme here at the Books for Walls Project. Now, we'd like to introduce one of our regular contributors with a story:

Last year a friend celebrated a birthday and on this occasion crafted a letter to share with friends and family: "who I am as I see me."  
Within the precious missive were stories and poetry, one of those poems is the perfect way to introduce you to Lynn Barrett, Lynn, Mom, Grandmother, Friend or, as we will refer to her here at Books for Walls,  The Teacher
The Teacher used to give an assignment to her senior students while they were busy filling out college applications, inspired by Theme for English B” by Langston Hughes:
The instructor said,
Go home and write
a page tonight.
And let that page come out of you—
Then, it will be true.
Perhaps you recognize the poem. If you do, then perhaps your mind has moved on to the question the next line poses: “I wonder if it’s that simple?” Explaining who we are is never simple, is it? 
She asked her students to write a truthful page about yourself for an audience they did not know.
On her birthday The Teacher shared her own completed assignment: 
I was a 1929 Depression baby
born and raised in Detroit
of parents born and raised in Detroit
of forebears born and raised in
Germany, England, France -- via Canada, and Native America.

Except for third grade in a public school
and one summer at Harvard,
educated in pre-Vatican II Catholic schools
through a master's degree--
where I never quite fit in--
I don't quite know why.

Perhaps because I am shy--
I don't quite know why.
A third generation teacher,
and a teacher by nature and calling;
a wife at 35,
a mother at 36,37 and 38,
a widow at 74, and a grandmother at 75,
but always a teacher--
and always alone,
aware that's the human condition.

Sometimes I hear a voice,
sometimes only silence.
Sometimes the silence is empty;
sometimes the silence is full.
I strive to be obedient.
And when the silence is overwhelming,
I try to be accepting.
And when the silence is awe-full,
I rest and rejoice in its gift.

I listen to the voices around me
and sometimes I hear what they're saying,
often I hear what they're not saying;
and I plumb the depths of the secret place within me
for compassion and wisdom.

Always seeking,
I get up each new morning
and put one foot in front of the other
and try to live out that day awake.

Now here am I,
having responded to that voice,
listening to you--
listening to me--
"...yearning to breathe free..." 
Please join us in welcoming The Teacher, we are so very happy to have her join us at the Books for Walls Project!