Fill your bowl to the brim
And it will spill.
Keep sharpening your knife
and it will blunt.
Chase after money and security
and your heart will never unclench
Care about people's approval and
you will be their prisoner
Do your work, then step back
The only path to security.Tao Te Ching
I found this writing in a book I am reading about St. Benedict. Because I am a hunter/gatherer of pieces of wisdom, I wrote it down. When I am gone, I fear my children will find little of value save the collections of wise sayings stacked in piles around the house.
This week, I wanted to do a post on writing but I am putting it off a week. When I saw this quote last week it reminded me of the need to breathe a little between classes and meetings and to recognize that more isn't always more. If fact when it comes to recognizing the way our students learn and the way we function best, often less is, in fact, more.
This particular quote struck me because of the emphasis on stepping back. When we work with learners of any age, we can get so caught up with test scores and other pieces of "objective data" that we cease to notice the other important growth happening in their lives. We know what these things are and they aren't necessarily measurable: depth of understanding, thirst for knowledge, appreciation of diversity, a sense of wonder and the ability to see beyond oneself.
Our role in a child's life is important, so important, and we want to do it well. We are, however, only a small piece of fabric in the quilt of our students' lives. The collective efforts of faculty, staff, parents, volunteers, peers, clergy, and community are woven together to form these young people. What we miss, and we will miss something, we need to trust will come from another source.
We do our work and at the end of our day, we step back, breathe, and offer our efforts to God- Someone higher than ourselves whose love for these children surpasses our own as the glory of the sun outshines the brightest candle.