June 14–Listening to my life

I acknowledge that I posted this on Facebook last night.  Right now, I have nothing else. Perhaps it will invite you to ponder the loves of your life.

Like so many Americans, the last 24 hours have been full of so many painful emotions. Tonight, reading all my FB stuff and responses to my posts, I’m seeing many, many former students of mine liking, loving, sad, angry, responding with thought and wisdom. My heart breaks open for the horror in Orlando.
 
I have, over 27 years, had the utter pleasure of teaching students who are straight, gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender.
 
I have taught students who are brown. They all know what that means. In my classes, we come to understand that we are all just shades of brown. I happen to be ligher or darker brown than some of them, but we are all brown.
 
I have had the utter delight of working with students who are Muslim (of various kinds), Hindu (of various kinds), Christian (of various kinds), Buddhist (of various kinds), Jain, Quaker, Pagan (of many kinds), Jewish (of various kinds), agnostic and atheist.
 
I have had the pleasure of working with students who are extremely poor, extremely wealthy, and extremely average in their economic conditions.
 
I have known the joy of working with students who only functioned in one language (until they finished with me!) and students who already spoke multiple languages when they entered my room.
 
I have known students who were outwardly happy and inwardly sad; open to new ideas and terrified of change; heartconservative, liberal and inquiring; full of life and contemplating suicide.
 
I have known the joys and sorrows of the life and family situations that defy my imagination: students who work 40 hour  a week jobs AND come to school; students who must work to help pay the bills; students who are the adults in the house; students who live alone; students who come home to find that their parents have been deported and who come back to school the next day.
 
My life is so rich for them all. There is not one, not a single one, I could be myself without because in their own ways, they have been, and will continue to be, my best teachers.
 
In the face of the sacred heart that is Orlando right now, there is no face, no life, no situation, no condition that does not hold worth.
 
So, we must stop the hate. Banish the fear. Extend our hands. Open our hearts. I could no more do harm to any of these human conditions than I could do harm to the loves who have been and will continue to be my students.
Reach out today.  Hugs help.
Bob Patrick
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