[On top of the pandemic and any personal reasons that you might have for feeling sadness, there has recently been deep grief about the discovery of the remains of 215 Indigenous children at a former residential school in Kamloops, BC (and the awareness that there are many more of these discoveries ahead). In response to sadness, one choice is learning…]:
The best thing for being sad is to learn something. That is the only thing that never fails. You may grow old and trembling in your anatomies. You may lie awake at night listening to the disorder of your veins. You may miss your only love. You may see the world around you devastated by evil lunatics or know your honor trampled in the sewers of baser minds. There is only one thing for it, then: To learn. Learn why the world wags and what wags it. That is the only thing which the mind can never exhaust, never alienate, never be tortured by, never fear or distrust, and never dream of regretting. Learning is the thing for you.
- T. H. White, The Once and Future King
[Maybe you missed last weekend’s “Rain and Snow” festival featuring Pádraig Ó Tuama and many others? Or maybe you were there and now you him, or miss poetry? ]
“What You Missed That Day You Were Absent from Fourth Grade”
Mrs. Nelson explained how to stand still and listen
to the wind, how to find meaning in pumping gas,
how peeling potatoes can be a form of prayer. She took
questions on how not to feel lost in the dark.
After lunch she distributed worksheets
that covered ways to remember your grandfather’s
voice. Then the class discussed falling asleep
without feeling you had forgotten to do something else—
something important—and how to believe
the house you wake in is your home….
- Brad Aaron Modlin, [This is the start of a poem that Padraig shares and discusses in the first episode of the new podcast he started with On Being just before coming to St. Stephen. Hope it whets your appetite for more. Check this out for the full poem and Padraig’s reflection.]
For we let our young men and women go out unarmed, in a day when armour was never so necessary. By teaching them all to read, we have left them at the mercy of the printed word. By the invention of the film and
the radio, we have made certain that no aversion to reading shall secure them from the incessant battery of words, words, words. They do not know what the words mean; they do not know how to ward them off or blunt
their edge or fling them back; they are a prey to words in their emotions instead of being the masters of them in their intellects….
For the sole true end of education is simply this: to teach [people] how to learn for themselves; and whatever instruction fails to do this is effort spent in vain.
– Dorothy Sayers, The Tools of Learning