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Saturday, January 31, 2009

Silence, and God's leading

The Fifth Page for Sunday February 1, 2009

I wrote about "expectant waiting" for the morning sermon partly because I am leaving on Monday for a week of study leave, part of which I will spend in a three day silent retreat. This is part of the discernment phase of a two year program in the ministry of spiritual direction. I have been a part of this program since the opening residential week in June 2008.

Since I began this blog, the 5th page has been posted on the Monday following a Sunday sermon. It is often in conversations after the service that I get a sense of what should appear here.

I am going to be "off-line" while on retreat, and will not be able to post anything.

Instead, I reccomend you look at these quotes from the Quaker educator Parker Palmer. They are all from his seminal book "The Courage to Teach", and they express a Quaker theology of personhood, relationship, and education that I think applies as well to a faith community as it does to a classroom:

The subjects we teach are as large and complex as life, so our knowledge of them is always flawed and partial.

The students we teach are larger than life and even more complex. To see them clearly and see them whole, and respond to them wisely in the moment, requires a fusion of Freud and Solomon that few of us achieve.

We teach who we are.

Teaching holds a mirror to the soul.

When I do not know myself, I cannot know who my students are. I will see them through a glass darkly, in the shadows of my own unexamined life—and when I cannot see them clearly, I cannot teach them well.

Teachers at all levels of education have more in common than we think, and we should not be so glib about which level we call "higher."


Good teaching cannot be reduced to technique; good teaching comes from the identity and integrity of the teacher.

Good teachers possess a capacity for connectedness.

The self is not infinitely elastic—it has potentials and it has limits.

Teaching is a daily exercise in vulnerability.

Unlike many professions, teaching is always done at the dangerous intersection of personal and public life.