Block 42: March 31, 2013


Happy Easter!

Hope you’re enjoying an Easter egg hunt, chocolate, or ham… If, of course, you celebrate.

Date: March 31, 2013

Location: Apartment, Washington Heights, NYC

Person I would have sent it to: Mrs. Howard, my second grade teacher.

I went to elementary school in the thick of the 1980s, which seems worlds away from what school is currently like.

Mrs. Howard… was she eccentric? What was second grade all about exactly? I remember tackling reading fully in 1st grade; I think my massive second grade accomplishment was learning cursive.

Do they still teach cursive?

Anyway, Mrs. Howard was famous because she had a PIANO in her classroom. And she played. And she scheduled time to play and as us to sing songs. And then we sang those songs in front of groups of people (parents, of course).

She was not a music teacher, mind you; she was my regular, everyday second grade teacher.

How awesome was it that in a public school in suburban/borderline rural Indiana one teacher was known for using piano and music to complement lessons? Could that even happen today?

I secretly wished she was one of my grandmothers.

Music I listened to while sewing: It seemed appropriate to listen to some Ennio Morricone this morning. I’ve had his movie score for The Mission on repeat this morning. It’s perfect.

Thoughts/Feelings behind the block: Excerpt from an article on Howlround (“One for All and All for One and Every Man for Himself,” written by Todd London)

‘What to say about… mutual respect? My colleague Ben Krywosz, of Nautilus Music-Theater in St. Paul, kicks off his powerful two-week-long studio for Composers and Librettists by reading a story or maybe myth adapted from the introduction to M. Scott Peck’s A Different Drum. It’s a story I think about almost every day of my working life, and I’ll tell it to you now.

The tale centers on a religious order that has all but died out. Only five disciples remain in the “decaying monastery,” all over seventy years old. The community’s Father Abbot seeks advice from a rabbi who periodically takes hermitage in a nearby forest. He tells the rabbi of their struggle, and the wise man commiserates, “I know how it is…The spirit has gone out of the people.” They weep together. Before he leaves, the abbot again asks for advice, but the rabbi has none to offer. “The only thing I can tell you,” he says, “is that the Messiah is one of you.”

Of course the humble brothers and sisters don’t know what to make of this statement. How could one of them be the Messiah? Brother Thomas is a holy man but he doesn’t smile much. Sister Mary is just too crotchety, though she almost always proves to be right. Philip is “so passive, a real nobody.”  Miraculously, though, he’s somehow always there when you need him. Maybe he is the Messiah. And so on. Finally the narrator gets to himself. “Of course the rabbi didn’t mean me…I’m just an ordinary person. Yet suppose he did? Suppose I am the Messiah? O please, God, not me!”

“As they contemplated this riddle,” the story continues, “the old people slowly began to treat each other with extraordinary respect, on the off chance that one among them might actually be the Messiah.” They find in each other the graces that may save them all. And just in case, “they began to treat themselves with extraordinary respect.”

In time, the old monastery, which people occasional visited on their wanderings through the woods draws more and more people. An aura of extraordinary respect seems to radiate out from the community. More visitors come. Some stay, including younger disciples. “And so it came to pass that within a few years, the monastery had once again become a thriving order and, thanks to the rabbi’s gift, a vibrant center of light and spirituality in the realm.” Mutual respect.’

I’m not in any way religious. I haven’t gone to a legitimate church service in well over a decade. There are times when I honestly doubt the validity and purpose of organized religions, as we humans run them. But I do understand they provide comfort. They do provide support for the people who do believe.

So, understand that when I say:

“Today, let’s believe you are the Messiah. And that I am the Messiah. We are all the Messiah together,”

I’m not trying to minimize the stature that a Messianic figure has. Let’s just remember our worth as individuals and treat ourselves with the respect that we all deserve.

Have a Cadbury egg for me today.



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