Throughout my educational experiences – a bachelors in English/Political Science, a masters in Library Science, and finally (so far) a masters in Psychology – I’ve been fortunate to have teachers who referred to books, articles, plays, music, and art. I’d jot down titles, authors, ideas in my notes during class – telling myself that, when I had time, I’d get around to these works. Mostly I didn’t pursue them. Life and commitments would become more important. Or maybe I just got lazy.
But since completing the requirements of my most recent degree I made a point of going back through all my notes, making a list of every reference. It covered five pages. For the last year I’ve been trying to get to one or more of these suggestions each month.
I’ve been lucky, not working full-time, to have the time for this. Lucky too that I needed to try to maintain the connection to the school and the people – the totality of that experience that permitted me to grow in ways I’d never imagined before. In attempting to hold on to this growth and encourage it to continue, by reading the books and articles, by searching for the music and art, by journaling on my responses to it, by including the images in poetry and prose, I’ve been able to continue on this path that feels right for me.
I’ve started to understand lately that, although I began this project as a search for certainty, as a way to confirm the connection between myself and the school, the teachers, the folks in my cohort even though I am geographically distant; what I am receiving through my reading is a continuing connection to uncertainty. That’s appropriate, and really should come as no surprise – since the crux of the program and the process of learning and living in it was about opening to the uncertainty that lives in each of us.
The gift – one among many – I received from entering the fifteenth cohort at school [if you’re interested in exploring go to www.meridianuniversity.edu ] was of accepting the unacceptable – of appreciating and responding to the uncertain, the fearful, the dependent, the needing person that I am. In the acceptance and response I find, we each find, that all those aspects of self that we have been taught and acculturated to hide, to see as weak and undesirable are really the gifts we have to offer to the world.
Right now I’m reading two titles from my five page list that beautifully and elegantly address uncertainty. One is “The Field Guide to Getting Lost” by Rebecca Solnit. The second is “Yearnings: Embracing the Sacred Messiness of Life” by Irwin Kula.
In “Yearnings” Kula refers to a story I’d never encountered, not having been raised in Judaism. It’s a Talmudic story of how God created and destroyed ten worlds before the one we have now. Why He destroyed them – because each was disappointing, not what He had envisioned, an utter failure. What a different vision of God! A God who was, Himself, uncertain – who desperately needed to get it “right.”
Even this world (in our times wouldn’t it be labeled World 11.0?) that He made, He nearly also destroyed. Yes, the one we have now didn’t seem up to snuff for its Creator – was nearly thrown on the trash heap. But the Talmud tells us, says Kula, that God paused. He thought about it, and realized that just because He had created it did not mean he could predict or control it. Even God had to live with the uncertainty that what He did was “good enough.”
God paused. And because of that we have everything from the Garden, through the apple, the flood, and all the way to where we are today. Hmmmm.