Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Rumi's Scribe

I’m back in my comfort zone and a marvelous zone it is. Teaching elementary kids at a school (Singapore American School, to be exact), reflecting on the lessons with the fine music team here, offering some big ideas large enough to hold and illuminate every choice I make in the teaching. There are many times that sentences put themselves together and I think, “Dang! That sounded good. Wish I could remember how I just said that!”

Writing—and speaking— is a kind of fishing, trying to capture in a net the elusive slippery thoughts that dart back and forth in the mind. You can’t force the fish into the net, just need to drop it in the right place and try to lure them in and know when the right time is to haul them up. If you miss it, that precise opportunity will never come again. Others will come that might be as good or not— that’s just the nature of the enterprise.

The Persian/ Turkish Medieval poet Rumi was a prolific writer of verse that has echoed through the centuries to move so many today. But Coleman Barks, one of his most inspired translators, says that Rumi often spoke his lines to his assembly of fellow spiritual speakers and one of them wrote them down as they came. This makes sense (though it’s tricky to know for sure in a translated version) because his poems don’t seem wholly crafted as metered and thoroughly edited poems. They often feel like a general image or small theme illuminated by extraordinary glittering spontaneous jewels of phrases.

It may seem arrogant to even put my name with Rumi’s in the same sentence, but in my own field of articulating a spirited pedagogy designed to draw forth children’s soulful presence and spiritual promise, I could use a scribe at my workshops! The phrases that form in the heat of the actual pedagogical practice are different from the ones I write sitting at home at my desk. If only I had someone to jot them down! Or take the time to look at the videotapes and extract them.

Consider this a job announcement. Anyone interested? 

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