If a Teacher Appears, Will the Student Be Ready?

If we’re honest, the answer to the headline question is, “Yes. Uh, no. Well, I don’t know, maybe.”

How can we know when a teacher will appear?  I’m learning that teachers pop up all around me every day.  I tend to know I’m ready by the response I give to teachable moments like these:

  • You head out the door–late–to a job interview or an important meeting.  The car batter is dead.
  • You travel out of town for business only to discover when you arrive at your hotel that you forgot the shoes that go with your suit.
  • The dog whizzes on the carpet right before company arrives.
  • You have all the fixings for a favorite cake recipe and realize you’re out of eggs.

How long did it take you to realize that a teacher had appeared and you weren’t ready?

Can you relate to any or even all of these examples?  The list could go on forever but there is a common theme:  How do you respond?

Do you tend to think “why are all these crappy things happening to me?”

Do you search the heavens looking for ways to figure out how to fix the circumstance?

Do you sit around squawking about how you’ve been wronged?

I used to to a lot of all three, and truth be known, still do from time to time.  But I’ve found a much easier to deal with life on life’s terms.

I slow down.  I appreciate.  I notice.  I contemplate how good my life is.

Let me tell you a true story, about my friend Shannon.

Shannon is a single mom to three adorable children.  She’s an elementary school teacher, and one of the most loving and giving souls you would ever meet. 

Shannon is in her mid-forties.  Right before Christmas last year, after more than a year of steadily increasing back pain and having a hysterectomy, gall bladder removed and an abnormal mammogram.  After many, many tests and many, many doctors, she was diagnosed with metastasis to her thoracic vertebrae.

With the untold friends, her entire family (mom and dad, sister and brother plus their families), Shannon was ready.  She stood tall in front of perhaps one of the greatest teachers we humans can face:  cancer.

Shannon is slowly, but steadily recovering from a stem cell transplant and her prognosis is good.  She wrote in her most recent post from the CaringBridge.org journal site “Just tucked the kids in for the first time in nearly 50 days.”  Can you imagine?  She was quarantined from her children for nearly two months.

My God, what an incredible display of readiness. 

Obviously we know which story we would like to emulate. 

While Shannon’s is far more complicated that the fictional story, and in the range of life occurrences, one of the most glaringly difficult to stand to, in many ways it is just as difficult to face the teacher’s lessons contained within the fictional story.  

Life’s big deals force us to slow down and deal.  But the day-to-day alterations to our routines that create speed bumps in our 24-hour racetrack? How do we stand to those?

We’d like to think we’re spiritually fit enough to be ready when the massive occurs but what about the minimal?  Trust me, it can take you out just as quickly if you’re not spiritually ready.

I invite you to spend tomorrow and the next day and the rest of June observing how you, the student responds when teachers–great and small–appear.  Try not to judge your responses, but use them as exercises in preparedness.

Are you up for the challenge? Send me an email to bheretoday.bethw@gmail.com and let me know how you do. 

In honor of National Cancer Survivors Day, here’s my friend Shannon.  Let’s continue to pray for cures, and the will to STAND.  Shannon, you’re an inspiration and my hero. May God continue to bless you.

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  1. Shannon Humphrey says:

    Wow! I am honored that you included me in your blog as an example. Life certainly dealt me the “slow down and deal” card just over five months ago. One of my spiritual teachers, Duke Tufty, told me when I spoke with him of my diagnosis, “Only good willl come from this.” The treatment and side effects have been grueling and at one time, I did come close to dying, but the blessings received and lessons learned have been at times, overwhelming. I am so incredibly grateful. So much good has come from this experience. I had NO IDEA just how blessed I was.
    I love you, Beth. It has been your love for me, and from countless others, that has helped me get through this tough time, keeping my heart open to receive the lessons in front of me instead of being blocked by fear.
    Keep on writing. You have an amazing talent.

    • Beth Wilson says:

      Oh, Shannon, Rev. Duke was sure right about the good, wasn’t he? The secret lies in being willing to open ourselves to heartache and the certainty that we will experience good.

      I love you right back and consider you an integral part of my spiritual journey. Let’s make sure we walk this path for a long, long time, shall we?

      On a kind of funny note, I loved to rub my mom’s peach fuzz as it grew back in. I’ll bet your kids get a kick out of that too . . .

      B well, my sister!

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