Life is a Teacher

Life is a teacher.

Life is a teacher.

Life is a teacher.

I remember saying that just the other day. Chances are I was being sarcastic, but the profundity reverberated back and hit me square between the eyes. Indeed, life is a teacher. Not teacher as in fourth grade, double check you did your spelling homework, kind of teacher. More like, ancient college professor who doesn’t care or even seem to notice if you show up for the oft monotone lectures on the bonding of atoms, kind of teacher.

Life is always teaching, with or without our consent. The question is, “Are we paying attention?”

I think our tendency is to want to be the teacher. We dominate our to do lists. Strive for accomplishment. Paint a reality that leads us to believe we have any control over anything. We steal the pointer from the decrepit instructor and we point it around and tell the circumstances in the room who’s the boss.

Our children have been raising lambs for 4H. And long story short, we had to put one of them down last night. All of us have grown to love the gentlest lamb in the bunch.

This culture of winning and striving and controlling has provided a great deal, but it has left us barren in the face of death.

Death is also a teacher. Only this teacher doesn’t surrender her pointer stick or her podium. When she speaks, we are silent, and as her voice whispers a final breath, all our accomplishments and striving and control are rendered mute. The words we use in the classroom of life have no bearing in the silence. 

But if we can be silent for a few moments in death’s classroom, we witness a great paradox. In a few words, death teaches us about life. She points to our aimless strivings and our lust for control. She draws us back to reality. The reality that declares the only control we may have is over ourselves–our words, our actions. She teaches us how to live better. To live in honesty and vulnerability. To live in reality.

Death raises her pointer stick, points back to the classroom of life, and whispers, “Pay attention.”

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