School is in session - always

Aug 31, 2017 Betty Starks Case

Are you a horoscope reader? A believer? I read mine now and then just for fun. Do you suppose it might teach me something if I gave it a chance?

A recent horoscope suggests a truth I can't deny. It goes like this:

"Perhaps it seems counterintuitive that you would be in a position to teach what you don't know, yet it happens all of the time. The added pressure of having to present information will make you learn super-quickly."

You mean today? In this column?

School has just begun for another season, so I must ask, "What do you mean, 'I finished my education long ago?'"

You graduated? From what? Life?

When you think about, it aren't we all both student and teacher?

Let's begin with the recent wonder that left us all breathless, awe-stricken, teary-eyed, or spiritual - that Aug. 21 eclipse of the sun. Was that a learning experience, or what?

Didn't the eclipse teach us how to truly look up? Be it spiritual, psychological or physical, let's not forget that one.

And how about patience - waiting to participate in a near-miracle? Most of us will likely be hoping for one or two of those events in our lives.

While human cruelty and destruction continue around the globe, we learned that we could gather in huge, warm crowds with folks from distant places. Together, we could experience a glorious peace and share an hour of waiting for a two-and-a-half-minute marvel we'll never forget.

That's impressive. Can it be we are learning?

Already, it's test-time in our post-eclipse school. Hurricane Harvey rages through Houston, Texas. Once again, we're learning that the answers require we reach for strength beyond ourselves.

Strangely, we find that strength within us while helping others.

I hope we're always this eager to learn, to acknowledge an assignment and run with it.

As for me, I hope, among other opportunities, to remain alert to the simple, unadulterated teachings of children to whom the world is new and learning is an earthly wonder.

Some of my most memorable teachers came in more recent years in the form of little people much younger than myself. I've probably told their stories before, but they fit my horoscope reading so well I must include them.

Remember 8-year-old nephew Clint, who hovered at my side and worried us both with the question, "Why was I named after two dead people?"

I finally found the answer when he taught me all I needed to know was that being named after dead people meant not that he was expendable, but loved.

I learned the wisdom and logic of 3-year-old nephew Todd, who reminded me that my husband could be my own grandpa.

"He has gray hair. He belongs to you, doesn't he?"

And he showed me that the world might run more smoothly if people carried a basket full of teddy bears to work in place of a briefcase full of problems.

In 1992, I met Danny, a new friend, in a restaurant. At age 3, Danny taught me to attune my senses to a child's view, to wonder at the flight of a common house-fly. Thanks to Danny, I'll never see the world quite the same.

Finally, there was Linda, a resident of the Denver Museum of Art. Linda taught so poignantly, without words or action, that the thing that separates her beautiful, perfectly created body from the living is no more than a soft waft of air known as breath, a warm divine stir known as life.

Creation felt so near that day - and yet so far.

I've come to realize that we are all teachers. And we're all students.

Age may have nothing to do with it. What does matter is our openness to learn what may be offered in the most unorthodox manner, by someone or some event that may seem quite unqualified to teach.

School is in session.