FIRST: The E-Bay auction run by Bloggers for Jenni is up. If you haven't yet read my post about Jenni Ballantyne, please do. She's an incredible woman who needs help, support, caring, prayers, people to witness her experience of cancer. Or just go straight to her blog and wish her well. She is not without her fears, but she is oh, so very brave, and she appreciates every word and thought that comes her way. Thank you.---------------------------------And now, for Sunday Scribblings....Last week's prompt on Sunday Scribblings was "Composition". In my post, I spoke about the Sunday night business of writing 3 essays, or "compositions" for my weekend homework. In my time at school, I must have written hundreds, if not thousands of essays, stories, compositions on all kinds of subjects, but there is one which I recall in detail, and the results of which have had a lasting impact on me...
I am almost 16, newly arrived in a school that promises a higher degree of academic excellence and attention to pupils' needs than my previous school. My mother is so happy that here, I'll be in an environment that will encourage me to knuckle down, and release the potential that all my previous school reports assured her was in me, and that if I would just "try harder", I'd be achieving really outstanding results.
I am enjoying the work. I like the teachers. (For the most part. There's Gladys, but every school has a Gladys, I'm sure!). I especially like Sr. Maura. Yes, in those days, there were still quite a few nuns involved in teaching, and Sr. Maura was relatively young, progressive in her thinking, and a delight as an English teacher after my previous experience. She encouraged reading material that wasn't actually on the curriculum. She advised us to read The Feminine Woman
and The Female Eunuch
and see how they compared. She was open and ready to think outside the box, and she assigned essay topics that I enjoyed; themes that could be explored creatively and played with a little. When I saw the topic she assigned us that Friday, I knew this was one essay I wouldn't be leaving until Sunday night. This was an essay I wanted to get to straight away. I had so much to say, back in the autumn of 1973 about.......... "What will life be like in the year 2000?"I had SO much to say. I had a vision of what life would be like on this little planet of ours. I believed - indeed, I felt that I knew - that within those 27 years, the world as we then knew it would be transformed. There would be no poverty, no starving children, there would be no wars. No-one would suffer because they were of a different race, colour or religion than anyone else. We would all have finally realised that we are indeed one people living on one planet; that we each have responsibility for all our brothers and sisters throughout the earth, and no-one would want to have more than their needs filled, while there was anyone who did not have their most basic needs seen to.
I described in great detail the care governments would take of the lowliest people in their nation; how leaders and politicians would see their work as a humble service and not a matter of personal pride; how women would take their place as equals to men in all fields of human endeavour. I wrote about how with our new awareness of the earth as one country, we would all be eager to be able to communicate with one another, and how one language would be chosen to be used in common by all, while local languages would then flourish, freed from the burden of being just one among a whole range of languages demanding attention in schools.
I had encountered the Bahá’í Faith
during the previous year, and in the summer of 1973, it crystallised for me into the answer to so many of the questions I'd had about religion. My vision of the future of our world was drawn out of my deep conviction that the teachings I had espoused would be accepted widely by all people who thought about such things. It holds the promise of a world that is united in this way.
Back in that golden autumn of 1973, the year 2000 seemed such a long way off. SUCH a long way, it would surely be enough time for the world to come to its senses, and stop hurtling along towards destruction; to halt all wars and to begin to recognise the common humanity of all peoples. Now, I see what a short span of time that is, and still, still, I believe now, more than ever that the time is close when the tipping point is reached, the turning point. I see it in the enthusiasm of millions of people for books and programs like Eckhart Tolle's "A New Earth
". There is an urge towards unity. We are like a body divided against itself, and the time to acknowledge that we ARE one body will soon be upon us. Indeed, it is upon us now.
When I handed in my essay, I did it with a heart filled with delight that I'd had a chance to declare my faith in humankind, to lay out my hope-filled cards, and to say that "For all its sham and drudgery, it is still a beautiful world" (Desiderata). I was delighted to have been able to articulate my faith, to declare it, to offer it to Sr. Maura, not just as an essay for correction, but as a gift.
Her response came in red pencil. I have forgotten what the grade was. But the comment has remained engraved in my consciousness. When I visualise my inner critic, when I imagine the wet blanket that doused my enthusiasms in the worst way - there is Sr Maura, she of the red pen, and the caustic comment:
....." Interesting, but it's hardly realistic, is it
No? Well, my dear Sister Maura, my unrealistic idealism has held. I still believe this is a beautiful world, that people have an instinct towards good, and that sooner or later, humankind will be united; that wars will be a thing of the past. Whatever ideals brought Sister Maura to the religious life did not last. She left the convent. I have no idea how her life has been. Hopefully it's been good. Hopefully, she found it possible somewhere in her life to consider what might not be realistic, but that still, with enough hope, with enough positive energy, with enough faith, might still come true.
For many years, I felt bitter anger towards her for her crushing remark. During the remainder of my time in that school, I handed in meticulously researched, carefully crafted essays on practical topics that called for no imagination, no creativity, no wondering what might happen. That was what she took from me. But I have reclaimed it - my right to wonder, my right to imagine, my right to say what I think, what I hope; my right to say that I think - despite all the many problems and ills that beset it right now - that this planet has a glorious future.
If you'd like to read other Sunday Scribblings on the Future of the Planet, Click HERE
I've finally done something to mark National Poetry Month. If you'd like to read, Click HERE
Labels: Bahá’í, Earth, school, Sunday Scribbling.