I am a high school and sometimes university teacher. I have been teaching in some form or another now for 30 years. Here is the lesson that I have been so slow to learn from all my years of teaching: there is so much to enjoy in life; it’s around us all the time; the people who seem the richest in their storehouse of abundance are often those who are bearing the heaviest burdens. Don’t get me wrong. Some people walk around every day with complaint after complaint. These are not the examples of which I speak.
I once had a student who wrote to me: “I just found out that I have cancer.” Another time, a student confided that he had struggled with depression and suicidal tendencies for 10 years. Another told me that she was most concerned about her father: he was her only living relative, and his health was not good. These are just the tip of the iceberg. Ask any teacher with some sense of soul, and they will have found these students, too, walking into their room every day. The most amazing thing is that they often are the students who try anyway, smile anyway, enjoy life anyway. They have a storehouse of abundance that their tragedies have served up to them in a way that only mystery and grace can explain.
The poet, Hafiz, understood this:
Come, join the honest company
Of the King’s beggars –
Those gamblers, scoundrels and divine clowns
And those astonishing fair courtesans
Who need Divine Love every night.
Come, join the courageous
Who have no choice
But to bet their entire world
Indeed, God is Real.
I will lead you into the Circle
Of the Beloved’s cunning thieves,
Those playful royal rogues –
The ones you can trust for true guidance –
Who can aid you
In this Blessed Calamity of life.*
*From: ‘I Heard God Laughing: Renderings of Hafiz: by Daniel Ladinsky
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