Tag Archives: Education

Lent Day 2: Miseducation and Common Prayer

I’m sitting in Bracken Library, taking a break from scanning pictures into the computer for my students most recent project, and it’s a little bit eerie in here. There are probably only 25 or 30 people at the computers, if that, and it’s very quiet, even here on the first floor. I don’t think I’ve ever seen the library quiet like this. Today has been strange all around, though, so I am not sure I should be surprised about the library.

Today was the last day of Istep for the 8th graders, so tomorrow we move back to doing our regular classroom stuff, instead of being broken up and spread around for testing, so my stress level will surely go back down. The students told me they thought the test was easy, which either means they did really well or really poorly. I think they were trying to tell me that, so I would feel like they had done super well. One student even said, “It’s because you taught us so well.” I have no doubts I teach well, but I will see in a few months how well they did on this stupid test, which is all that really matters now isn’t it? Two days makes or breaks a student. And his or her teacher.

Anyway, I did receive another blessing today. When I got home, I had yet another book that I purchased with my Amazon points waiting in my mailbox: The Miseducation of Cameron Post. I made the mistake of starting to read it, and now I don’t really want to do anything else. Obviously, if you clicked the link, you notice the secular nature of the text, but to me, the subject is so intimately intertwined with my spirituality, I can’t see a difference.

Church people insist that our sexuality reflects our spirituality by encouraging people to remain virgins until marriage for the sake of religious purity, so it only makes sense to me that our sexuality is somehow an act of worship. Maybe this is why I nearly weep when I find a book that speaks to my soul like this one. I keep finding myself thinking, Where was this book in 1987? My life would’ve been so different if literature like this had existed then. I might have realized at a much earlier age who I really am. I might not have been so lost for so much of adolescence. But I can’t go back, nor do I want to!

As I am reading this book it makes me think about how intricately woven we are as human beings, how delicately God put us together, but yet how hardy we are. I mean let’s face it: humans are fragile but resilient. We can crack or break, but we can take a lot of shit before we do. In a strange way, I think that’s what Lent is about. God wants us to recognize that we are fragile, but that we are designed to weather the storm, whatever that entails. Jesus wants us to follow him to that cross, where our resilience meets our obedience meets our fragility.

For the first time, today I tried to pray the various prayers throughout the day from Common Prayer, and I think it went well. I noticed that it made me think through the day about who I am in Christ. I love that the midday prayers are the same every day and I love that one of those prayers is St. Francis’s: “Where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy.” And of course he goes on: “For it is in giving that we receive, it is in pardoning that we are pardoned, and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.” How beautiful. And if we really pray it and believe it, how can we not be transformed?

Through these ritual prayers, I realized that I was more conscious on some levels about how I conducted myself in the classroom and with colleagues, but praying through the hours also drew attention to the fact that I am so far from where I want to be spiritually. However, praying so frequently and with a specific prodding to pray for others really made me think hard about those around me who need prayer, love, grace, and my action. And so I continue to learn.

Peace.

Winter Trail Run. Frittata. Swimming and Grading.

Winter Trail Quarter Marathon

Last night I ran my first race of the year, the Planet Adventure Trail Quarter Marathon. It was 4.55 dark miles of pure bliss and 2 miles of hell, but the whole 6.55 miles was an amazing experience I’d sign up for again and again. After the first two miles, one of which snaked along an icy narrow trail on the edge of the Eagle Creek Reservoir—and I mean right on the edge, one misstep and you’re in the drink, down an eight or ten foot drop—I got into my groove and thought to myself, This isn’t so bad. I will kick this race’s behind.

Little did I know that mile three would be one of the most spiritually beautiful, yet one of the most physically grueling miles I’d ever run. I had heard some other runners talking before the race about running across a land bridge between the two lakes and was pretty excited about that prospect. However, I had no idea that the land bridge would be covered in railroad rocks, the big jagged pieces of limestone that had nothing better in mind than to macerate the bottoms of my feet with their pointy little edges. My VFFs, though they performed amazingly well throughout the rest of the trail, were no match for those tiny torture devices. In short, I walked the almost mile across the reservoir to keep from making hamburger of the bottoms of my feet, and they still bruised a bit. While I was walking—and stubbornly sometimes jogging—along the land bridge, I turned off my headlamp and relished the pitch blackness. It doesn’t get pitch black by my house, and I can’t see the stars for all the streetlamps. So I was in awe when I discovered the heavens were arrayed in their full glory, and I could see Orion and the Big Dipper, along with all of their individual stars. I walked along worshiping, meditating, and feeling blessed.

I can’t capture in words how majestic it was to be moving along between two bodies of water, under the beautiful night sky, with my breath steaming out in rhythmic puffs, and my body reveling in the physicality of the experience. Just when I thought I couldn’t feel more joyful, I looked up around the shore, and I realized I could see the headlamps of everyone who was running the race bobbing along the trail circumnavigating the water. At that moment, I gained a better understanding of what humanity is, and I was overwhelmed by the feeling. I got a lump in my throat that could only be an Emersonian revelation that we are all one. Though we are many individual people, we are one humanity, and every one of our hearts vibrates to the same iron string. I tried hard not to let the water come into my eyes, because I was afraid it would freeze. But I couldn’t help it. Surely that must be what life is all about. Beauty, grace, joy, and camaraderie.

Once the land bridge ended, we were off and running on a wide road, which eventually headed into a double-track trail for most of the rest of the race. I much prefer double- or triple-track trails to single-track. The single-track trails make me very self-conscious about being a slow runner, and I feel like I have to move over for the faster runners to get by. I swear my times would be better if I could just get over moving over and let the speed demons figure out how to get around me. I don’t suppose that’d make anyone happy though. And since I am not competitive, running for fun than times, I will probably continue to move over so they can get by. Some even say thank you.

Everything was moving along fine until mile six, which was just pure hell. I would say a good half to three-quarters of mile six was just mud. A thick, goopey, cold, muddy hell. There was nothing majestic about mile six. Although I am sure there is some good theological metaphor buried there beneath the dark, wet dirt.  In spots, the mud was up past my ankles, and we just had to make do. My VFFs were two to three times their normal size and weight, and I am not sure if my favorite (a.k.a LUCKY) socks will ever be the same color they once were. So much for white and rainbow. Running this mile reminded me of running the Mudathlon, only the weather was slightly, okay drastically, colder and more oppressive. I thought at one point when I stepped in a puddle up to mid-calf that my toes on my left foot were just going to freeze off, but I kept running and they eventually warmed up.

Luckily I didn’t fall at all. I blame my ability to stay upright on all the recent plank work I’ve been doing. I saw a guy slip on the ice on the narrow, treacherous path and  nearly slide into the reservoir, save for grabbing onto the tree that happened to be next to him. My friend Teresa—who had planned to run the half marathon, but stopped after the first ridiculous lap—fell three times. She was covered in mud, wet, cold, and miserable enough to stop. We both agreed this race was one of the most difficult we’d ever done. Even though it was ridiculous, it was amazing, and I’ll likely do it again next year.

My Finisher's Medal: Made From a Fallen Tree at Eagle Creek

Sunday Morning Frittata

This morning, because I was starving from my workout last night, I decided to try a new recipe. I won’t try it again in the same pan I used today, because it stuck like glue, so if you try this one, make sure to use a very nonstick pan. Aside from sticking, it was pretty tasty. I’ll probably add some onions and some garlic next time, too.

10 eggs
a bunch of spinach
a bunch of mushrooms
6 slices of bacon
a splash of heavy cream
a bit of butter if necessary
salt and pepper to taste

Fry the bacon to your likeness. Remove from pan and crunch it up. If you need a little extra grease, add some butter and then saute the mushrooms. While they are doing their thing, whisk together the eggs, salt and pepper, and the splash of cream. When your mushrooms are the way you like them, add in the spinach and bacon, then pour the eggs in on top of them. Cook at medium-low, or low, heat until the eggs are done all the way through. I put the lid on for part of the time, because I think it makes the eggs fluffier.

Deliciously Eggy

Swimming and Grading

Later today, I am going to swimming at Ball Pool where I finally have a locker, so I don’t have to lug all of my stuff back and forth with me every day. I need to work out my sore muscles, so I can sleep better tonight. (And I probably won’t drink three or four cups of caffeinated coffee right before trying to go to bed, like I did last night. Dumb.) I find that swimming, especially in the warm waters of Ball Pool, really helps my mood, my blood pressure, and my fatigued, old body. I am hoping that today it will loosen up my back, which is a little tense from running up and down those slick and muddy/icy hills. I know it will relax my mind and prepare me to grade.

After swimming, I am going to Starbucks for the great grade-a-thon. My high schoolers have turned in two reflections and a couple of other assignments, so I need to get them graded and returned to them. Likewise, I am sure my 8th graders would love to have their book reviews back. They were supposed to be their last grade for first semester, which ended two weeks ago, but they are going to be their first grade for this semester instead. They are gracious. They don’t mind my getting a little behind. Besides, they’re too busy reading Anthem to care about their old papers.

Conference. New Shoes. Fish Stir Fry.

Conference

I was pleasantly surprised by the conference I went to today. Last year this same conference was pretty useless, and I left more frustrated than educated. This year, however, I went to two sessions by a woman named Jamie MacDougall. Her sessions were fun, upbeat, and informative. I got several great ideas about how to use primary documents to provide students with historically amazing mentors.

For example, if a student is excited about feminist history, s/he could look at the primary documents of the Women’s Suffrage Movement in order to better understand some of the people who were involved in it. Through those documents, that student could then begin to form an understanding of the mentor’s philosophies, work ethic, thoughts, friendships, theories, collaborations, and other facets of their lives. Through this research students will become protégés of the famous person, choosing to pattern their lives after their role model/mentor, whether the mentor is alive or long passed.

I also attended a session about quality curriculum, which inspired me to completely revise the way I approach the standards in my classroom next year. I think between the two sessions, I have a lot of work to do over the summer to make my classroom more student driven, but also more clearly focused on quality topics. Of course, this may mean being much more creative with gathering texts and with how I use the libraries (Ball State, Burris, and Muncie Public).

New Shoes

Typically I run with no shoes or very minimal shoes, but as I mentioned in another post, I have a trail run coming up this Saturday. Today it is 40ish degrees and rainy, but by Saturday it could be zero and snowy or icy. I decided that running 6.55 miles in the snow might call for more foot protection than my VFFs could muster, so I purchased the flattest trail shoes I could find. I wanted some with decent tread in case of snow, a large toe box for my wide used-to-being-barefoot feet, and a pretty sweet design. I think I got all three things, but they are certainly not minimalist. I feel like I am on stilts when I run or walk in them, and I hope I can get used to that by Saturday night. If the weather allows, I’ll still be running in my VFFs and keeping these Adidas Vigors as my standby shoes.

Casual Shoes

Fish Stir Fry

This meal was entirely made up by me. If the recipe I am about to post resembles another one that exists, the similarities are entirely coincidental. Also, I am not real hip to measuring things, preferring instead to go by instinct. I am sorry if that bothers you, but it’s just how I cook.

Recipe: In butter, saute several cod pieces/filets (use a couple more than you think necessary because they do cook down a little), which you’ve seasoned with seasoned salt and pepper, for about 3 to 4 minutes on each side. Remove them from the wok or skillet and just let them hang out for a bit.

In the same pan, saute some green onions, grated fresh ginger, diced bell peppers with some salt and pepper. When those start to give off a good smell, add in some broccoli and carrots. Cook all the mess until your broccoli and carrots are almost the desired tenderness, which for Bec and me is al dente. Then spoon all the vegetables to one side to let them stay warm, while adding the fish back into the other side of the pan to warm it back up.

If you want it all mixed together, you could do that now, but I prefer to serve out the vegetables first, topping them with the fish. I think the plate looks prettier this way, not like I just glommed out some stir fry and slapped it on the plate. I didn’t take a picture of this meal, but it was pretty tasty. The cod was a good choice of fish, but I think many other meatier types of fish would work, too.

Today’s Bible Reading: Genesis 22, 23, 24 and Matthew 6: 19-34

What’s Coming Up Roses

Tomorrow I will spend the entire day at a conference learning how to teach “gifted” students. I am going in someone else’s place, so I didn’t get to pick any of my sessions. I am excited about the one about twice-exceptional students, but the title of the other one doesn’t even make sense. I can’t even begin to guess what it might be about, so I guess I’ll just be surprised. Since I am trying to write more regularly, I’ll be sure to give an update of the conference tomorrow.Maybe I’ll write it during the conference. On my phone. Which is always fun.

Bec kindly shared her cold with me, so I am stopped up, tired, achy, and coughing. Instead of going swimming today, I slept for two and a half hours. I feel a little better, so I hope to go swimming tomorrow night, but I do have some grading I will have to get finished. It’ll be all swimming all week this week anyway, because I pulled one of the groin muscles (likely the adductor brevis or longus) in my right leg while I was playing racquetball yesterday. I have a race next Saturday, so I am trying to let it rest, so I can at least finish the 6.55 miles. I hope the resting works, because this will be my first race with a headlamp, and I don’t want to miss it.

I’m also planning to buy some regular trail shoes tomorrow, while I am supposed to be eating lunch. My toes get a little cold in my VFFs when they get wet. I think it’s because they are all separate in their little toe pockets, and since there is supposed to be snow on the ground and some ice next weekend, I’d just rather not lose a toe to frostbite on my first winter trail run! I can wear my smart wool socks in regular shoes to keep the pigs warm if not dry.

One of my goals this year—as it has been pretty much every year—is to read through the Bible. I always get to the minor prophets and then stop reading. You’d think after wading through Chronicles and Isaiah, I’d make it from there, but alas, those minor prophets stump me every time. This year, however, I found this great mobile app from YouVersion that reminds me every night when it’s time to read the selection for the day. I am currently a couple of days behind, but I aim to catch up tonight. It is my hope to start adding into my posts a bit about what I’ve been reading. Of course, if you know me, it won’t be in a preachy way, but in a reflective way. It’ll be copesetic, or simpatico, as one of my seminary professors used to say. And, I’ll likely do some reflections on some Buddhist writings I’ve been reading, too.

Last but not least, today I made some beef stroganoff on spaghetti squash, served with a salad on the side. I used this recipe. It was absolutely delicious, and I have some decent leftovers for my lunches this week. Next time I will probably put it on zucchini “noodles” instead of on spaghetti squash just to see how the taste changes. The rich, creamy sauce was perfect for the cold, damp, nasty day we had here in beautiful East Central Indiana.