I'm not sure I've ever said it before to my workshop participants or even to anyone else until last Friday, but I was in the middle of teaching, and the participants were all working in groups. When we processed the process, one teacher said, "When _____ said that, it made me think _______." I thought about metacognition and all the times we talk about that concept in intellectual ways, but I simply said, unbidden, "I just realized that thinking begets thinking."
Now, some of you might think this is so simplistic as to be silly, but I really believe I "get that" now. The more I think, the more I think. If my priest (whom I highly respect by the way) says something, I find myself nodding my head like one of those bobbing dogs that hang from some people's rear-view mirrors. Today, in church, I was listening to a reading, and I saw a word I had never heard or seen before: "raiment". I thought to myself, "Hmmm.....I am going to have to look that one up." But when I read the sentence, "O God, who on the holy mount revealed to chosen witnesses your well-beloved Son, wonderfully transfigured, in raiment white and glistening....", I could use my context clues to figure out it must have something to do with clothing. And that, it does. However, it is quite an archaic word, one that, if I use it in a training or in a casual conversation, I might be accused of sounding a bit pretentious. Can you imagine? I would greet the teachers I'm teaching in Texas on Tuesday by saying, "Your raiments are so lovely." "My WHAT? Get this cuckoo out of here!" they might shout.
But there is another word in that passage above that struck me, when I began thinking about my thinking: transfigured. And then, she did it. Our dear priest, Debra, began preaching about transfiguration and talking about how it is really about when something happens in the real world, and we choose to turn towards it. She said that, if we take the time to pause and to really see it, we are availed of God reaching His hand toward us. Wowee!!! That is some deep stuff to think about!!!
So, here is my "little bit down to earth" example of that. We all see birds, right? They are everywhere. Not in a creepy, Alfred Hitchcock way. They are just everywhere. But, after my mom died in 2005, and we scattered her ashes along the Cardinal Trail in Audobon State Park in St. Francisville, LA (shhhh.....I know you're not supposed to scatter ashes in a state or national park, but what are you going to do about it now?? I'm certain there is a statute of limitations on ash scattering), I began seeing bright red cardinals so much more often than I think I ever had before. Maybe some would call it coincidence, maybe someone would say it's because now that I've associated them with Mother, I notice them more often (just like when you are shopping for a new car and you test drive a Subaru---all of a sudden, it seems the only cars on the road are Subarus, right?), but I choose to believe it is something altogether different.
Mother's death and the scattering of her ashes transfigured me in some way that I begin to turn towards things and pause long enough to be changed by those things, and I believe that is God reaching out His hand toward me.
Today, we allowed our eldest Lab, L.N. to cross over the rainbow bridge. Not an easy choice, ever, but we know she is without pain, pain meds, and she is transfigured and able to roam like she did as a puppy, sniffing every single thing in her path.
I have mentioned before that teaching is my life, right? I mentor several doctoral students at Walden University and I teach multiple master's courses in Educational Leadership at Grand Canyon University. I may have also mentioned that I am pretty tough on my students, particularly those getting their degrees in order to become school leaders. Why? I believe that we are what we write, and if I make multiple grammatical errors (even though, as I've been told by a student, "Grammerly didnt catch it so it cant be wrong write?" Wait, WHAT????), my reputation as a school leader will likely be sullied. Well, not every student thanks me for grading them with a fine tooth comb (or keystroke, whatever). Shocking, right?
But every once in a while, I get one of those emails or individual discussion posts that say something like, "You are the first professor who has ever given me specific feedback that could help me become a better writer and educational leader." And then it happens! I am totally transformed and remember why I continue to be tough on them. They may not all thank me right now, and many may never thank me. But when I read someone's post, "Dr. Arneson is the toughest but most engaged professor I have ever had", I know I am doing the right thing.
I pray for that feeling of transfiguration to come over you and, as our priest said, "God wants us to become the very best version of yourself."