Friday, January 06, 2017

We Are Now, and We Always Have Been, Graciously Guided.

When I look back at my life, I realize that I have been guided all along; I did not see the guidance along the way, I saw it only in retrospect.
from A Course in Miracles:
What could you not accept, if you but knew
that everything that happens, all events,
past, present and to come, are gently planned
by One Whose only purpose is your good?
(Lesson 135.18)

Time is a trick, a sleight of hand, a vast
illusion in which figures come and go
as if by magic. Yet there is a plan
behind appearances that does not change.
The script is written. When experience
will come to end your doubting has been set.
For we but see the journey from the point
at which it ended, looking back on it.
(Lesson 158.4)
And here is a passage from Jane Gage Govoni’s, “Faith, Love, and Hypnosis: An Inspirational Memoir of the Dance Between Stroke and Healing.
It is very amazing when we look back at the long road of our life and see all the signposts that we have been given but didn’t understand at the time.  I received a signpost when I was 12.  Each of us had a Bible verse chosen for us, and mine was Isaiah 40:29-31:
29 He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength.

30 Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall:

31 But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.

You can imagine my surprise when the same verse was chosen for me at my high school graduation four years later.  Maybe  Soren Kierkegaard  said it best when he wrote, “We understand our lives backwards but we must live them forwards.”  

I was going to need the comfort of the words I was forced to learn 30 years before the stroke. (pp. 73,74)
And now, I am going to look back on my life to demonstrate how I was graciously guided.  I am going to focus in on only four incidents,  “signposts,” in respect to my education and my profession.
When I was a senior in high school in Three Rivers, MI, I began receiving recruiting letters from colleges and universities, inviting me to visit their campuses and talk with coaches about playing football and running track.
No one in my family had ever gone to college, and I was not receiving any guidance.  One day in the middle of the summer, an Admissions Counselor from Kalamazoo College, appeared at my door and said, “Look, we have offered you a most significant scholarship; so significant that we offer only two of them each year.  Now, are you going to take it, or not?”
I said, “OK, and what do I have to do next?”
He said, “I need a $50.00 deposit.”
I said, “Let’s walk to where my Dad is working at Reen’s Super Market.”
When we arrived, I asked my Dad for the money, and he said, “I don’t have it; I’ll borrow it from Reen.”
And, then, it was a done deal.
(Incidentally, tuition and room and board in those days at K was $1500.00, yearly, and the Chet Barnard Scholarship was for $1000.00.  Somehow my parents managed to come up with the rest for four years; my father was a butcher, and my mother worked as a secretary at the Continental Can Company in Three Rivers.)
After a wonderful four years at K, playing football, running track, becoming an English Major, and winning a Light Scholarship to go on foreign study to France for a summer, at the University of Caan in Normandy, I found myself in the spring, again, wondering what I was going to do next.
(Also, I was being directed early on towards the light because the Kalamazoo College motto is, “LuxEsto,” meaning, “Let there be light.”)

One day, while walking across the Quad, an English Professor, Larry Barrett, walked by me and said, “Oh, I just received a brochure from The University of Chicago; the University is offering a Master of Arts in Teaching Program (MAT) you might be interested in.  Go grab the brochure.”
Well, l applied, received a generous scholarship, and began the two-year program in the fall of 1963.
I had never thought much about teaching, and after practice teaching in the University Lab School, I knew that was exactly what I wanted to do.
I also practice taught for a semester in a Chicago public school, and I wrote a Master’s Thesis, a critical essay on “The Great Gatsby,” and a three-week lesson plan.
Once again, in the spring of my final year, I found myself wondering what to do next.  I filled out forms at the University’s Career Center, and one day, I had an appointment set for a meeting with a high school Principal from San Francisco.  I was simply looking for a job, not thinking about any particular location. 
I received a call that he canceled, and a Principal could interview me from Westport, Ct.  I met with Ken Brummel, and we had a very exciting, inspiring interview.  At the end, he said, “Look, I will fly you out to Westport, and you can stay with me and my family, and tour the Bedford Junior High School.”  Well, I flew there, was blown away by the strength of the school system, the teachers and students, and returned to Chicago with a contract that simply needed to be signed and returned; and I promptly sent it  to Ken.

That turned out to be a very exciting four years; my two wonderful roommates, also first-year English Teachers, were Don Schuman from   Princeton, and Ed Elenausky from Johns Hopkins.
My English Department Chairperson, Annette Silverstone, was very encouraging.  One time, during my first fall teaching, I told her of some cool idea I had about making a connection between Joseph Campbell’s, “The Hero with a Thousand Faces,” and Homer’s “Odyssey,” and she said, “Try anything once.”
During the spring of my fourth year, I received a call from Janet Emig, my Supervisor during my MAT Program at the University of Chicago, who said, “Listen, Ray, we are beginning a Doctoral Program in training teachers how to teach, and I thought of you.”  She went on to say that she often used my Master’s Thesis as an example to show other students of how it could be done.

In the fall of 1969, I entered the doctoral program, receiving my doctorate four years later, yes, in the spring.
from A Course in Miracles:
Whatever your appointed way may be,
it was selected by the Voice for God.
His is the only way to find the peace
that God has given us. It is His way
that everyone must travel in the end,
because it is this ending God Himself
appointed. In the dream of time it seems
 to be far off. And yet, in truth, it is
already here; already serving us
as gracious guidance in the way to go.
(Final Lessons)

And, here is a Haiku:

Graciously guided
we see it looking backwards
Now, trusting next step