(for the Jewish month of Elul, which happens to coincide pretty perfectly with the month of September this year, I’m going to try to blog once a day about one of the themes for the month to prepare for the upcoming Yamim Nora’im or High Holy Days. I will most likely blog in the evenings, so it will technically already be the next day in the Hebrew calendar, but I’m really going to try to keep up with this! you can pop on over to originator Rabbi Phyllis Sommer’s blog for more details about this project.)
it’s been a hot minute—these after-work/weekend training meetings are really exciting and useful but they’re also exhausting because they mean I’m working almost 13-hour days—but I want to make sure that I share my thoughts for the second half or so of this month.
awaken. today was the first day students and I really started digging deep into what identity means and how it is constructed—with the hope that it has awakened their curiosity about it since we will be spending the rest of the quarter talking about culture and identity. as we spoke about our first media piece on this topic, I could just about see the wheels turning for some students. it made me realize that to be awake is not just to be conscious and moving through the world—it is to be present in the moments we are living and truly experiencing the world with the wonder it deserves.
ask. ah, to ask. ask and ye shall receive, they say, and yet it is so difficult to ask for help, to request the accommodations we might need, to inquire about different paths we could take even when we’re all headed in the same direction. today, as we discussed the creation narratives from Genesis in class, I found myself asking questions that I knew might be a little above them—and then working with them to co-generate answers—and I realized that, sometimes, the point is not so much the answer to the question as it is being able to know what to ask.
speak. now this is a word that I use often at work because we have speaking and listening competencies that students must meet—but that is not the first thing that came to mind. instead, I immediately thought of Laurie Halse Anderson’s incredible and life-changing book of the same name. it was the first book I ever taught to a class—I did it during student teaching—and I’d first read it in college. it gave me the words to talk about my own experience with assault when I was around Melinda’s age, and it helped me to think about healing in a way that allowed for hope. in a lot of ways, seeing as I was deeply suicidal the following semester and the book was how I began talking about my assault in therapy, I truly think speak saved my life—and empowered me to help others find their voices.Continue reading