Today the British government has announced that by 2020, the UKwill take in up to 3,000 more child refugees. (Although, this announcement also contains the (frustrating) caveat that those who have already reached Europe will be excluded from the new initiative).
My fear is that these children will be so deeply traumatised, so broken by the horrors they have witnessed, that they will carry their wounds in places of quiet agony, affecting their emotional, psychological and in many cases, physical, development.
Not that I don’t welcome these children with a desperate surge of maternal passion that is quite foreign to me. Not that I would want the UK to take any less or to be any less involved. It’s just that I can’t get my head round the atrocities that these children may have witnessed. I can’t conceive of how they will communicate their loss, their grief, their horror and their fear; things that feel impossible to communicate ev
en as an adult, familiar with Western patterns of interaction and with a sound knowledge of the English language.
I want to help. I want to teach, or counsel, or care for or SOMETHING. Just something.
There’s a more than a little irony in the immediate cacophony of internal noise that is triggered by the word ‘quiet’. I hear my dad’s ‘story voice’ reciting Merton’s When we Two Parted‘ against a background hum of ‘Silence is Golden’. A memory of a most beautiful place stirs sleepily and I feel the haze of Burgundy sunshine, lagoon like pools and the muffled sounds of people’s reflection at The Source.
Quiet. A concept known to all. Heralded as a panacea, a state of the soul, a level of consciousness, a discipline, a practice, a revealer, a healer, a sedative.
Yet. Quiet. Used as a weapon, a punishment, a cop out, an ally, an accomplice, a collusion.
Quiet. The absence of noise, yet, the stillness within sounds.
Absolutely NOTHING will pop up in my head when I try to think of an ‘N’ to write a short, imaginative and captivating post about. Why it is that I am so wholly devoid of inspiration I don’t know. It’s possible that a pervasive tiredness bears some responsibility, that and the illness I have tends to hijack the parts of my brain that might be otherwise creatively engaged.
So N is for Nihilism. For the philosophically uninitiated, this is the belief that the world and everything in it, life, values, morals, laws… are meaningless. There is no POINT to anything, nothing has any meaning.
Macbeth sums it up beautifully when he says:
“Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player That struts and frets his hour upon the stage And then is heard no more; it is a tale Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, Signifying nothing.”
It’s a painful thought; one which challenges the my Christian faith on a daily basis at the moment. It would be so much easier to believe that life really is just a brief candle which is eventually snuffed out to burn no more. Perhaps owing to the extremist tendencies of Anorexia, nihilism stalks me daily, lightly running cold fingers through my hair. Death-coated whispers trickle through the aural canals, trembling tiny bones and dizzying my stance.
Turns out I have something to write about after all.
It’s what I’m good at, and you honestly won’t hear me use that phrase very often.
As the official leader of The Society of Burnt Out Teachers, I nowadays realise that although my passion for teaching English and English Literature will never waver, the transference of my enthusiasm doesn’t have to be within a classroom. No. In some ways, it’s easier to deliver it within a mentoring relationship. Because, as most good teachers will agree, at a certain age, its RELATIONSHIP which is the single most important factor in the delivery of successful teaching.
Mentoring allows a relationship to flourish (hopefully) and then, once established, it’s an open landscape on which, as a trusted mentor, you can help to build whatever scene and whichever structure, will most benefit and satisfy the mentee.
I’ve mentored a lot of your people, before and during my teaching career. Nothing sparks me like being able to nurture an ambition in someone. I love to help breathe hope into other people’s hearts. Nothing gives me a renewed sense of purpose like showing someone else their purpose.
Lighting. – I did a little post mentioning my love of the softer season’s evening lighting but I’m also mad about LAMPS! I have a growing collection of the weird, the wonderful and the beautiful!
Longfellow – The beauty of his words very often nearly drives me over the edge!
Lakes – Particularly the deep blue pools in the Pyrenees
Licorice-I’m quite mad for the stuff! It has to be hard – tear – with- your- teeth licorice. The sort that you can buy in little bags… cuttings…
Learning- I’m fascinated by the world and it’s people! Sometimes I wonder why we/I bother to research something,my tendency towards nihilism creeps in. Then I realise that I have a genuine love of knowledge and of learning. And sometimes it’s okay to do something for its own sake.
Lemon – Generally love lemons!
Literature- I couldn’t live without it. Oh… and Languages… I love to learn new words in any language. I’d like to be fluent in all the European languages,ancient Greek, Arabic and Latin!
Hmmm… Overall, L is looking kinda like a lame excuse for a post.
(I know it’s cheating but sometimes you just have to take a shortcut.)
J is for Jesus. Mostly, if you read the gospels, a very likeable chap. Mystical, yes. Unpredictable, very. Would you have hung out with him? And if you would… for what reason? Because no doubt about it, he was pretty rebellious…and exciting… Would you have enjoyed the drama? Would you have liked it that he caused a stir? Would you have been attracted by the cool magic stuff? Would you have been drawn to his intense love and his wisdom?
C.S Lewis had a lot to say about the matter and I leave his famous quote about Jesus here. It’s a good one to ponder…
“I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God. That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”
― C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity